19 November 2012
Where Did All The Good Role Model Barbies Go? The Mattel Barbie doll has been a major part of many young girls’ life for over fifty years. Barbie has influenced young girls all over the world that anything is possible. Girls look up to the Barbie doll and some even try to imitate her look. The Barbie has always been targeted for controversies due to Mattel’s lack of consideration while creating the Barbie dolls. Since the day Barbie was created to present day, society has changed which meant Barbie had to change with society to stay relevant. Mattel’s lack of consideration for young children and parents when coming out with new Barbies, like Midge, the pregnant Barbie, and Takidoki, the Barbie with tattoos are making parents rethink buying Barbies for their children. When Barbies were first created they were intended provide as a toy for young children. Playing with Barbies always involved dressing up and role play with one of Barbie’s many careers (Van Den Boomen 197). Barbie has had many jobs that would be considered “man’s job”. She has been an astronaut, a lawyer, and even a racecar driver (Tushnet 1). This shows young girls they can be anything they want despite their gender (Tushnet 1). Barbie encouraged young children to use their imagination and anything is possible. Barbie gave young children a role model to look up to and children wanted to be just like her. Over the years, society changes and Barbie’s ability to grow and develop with it, kept her relevant (Rand 7). Some of Mattel’s changes and new Barbies ended up with controversies due to Mattel not paying attention to buyer’s wants and not considering the fact that some young girls live by Barbie and follow Barbie’s every move.
Sex sales and large companies know this and use it. Children growing up are bombarded from a young age with graphic messages about sex and sexiness in the media (Durham 1). During the 2000’s, Mattel released a line of lingerie Barbies called the Silkstone Lingerie Barbie (Flood 3). Mattel released the lingerie Barbie doll because of concerns that children were losing interest in Barbies at a younger age (Webber 71). The Barbie was dressed in a bustier draped in an alluring robe (Webber 71). The Lingerie Barbie exposed children to the sexualization of dolls at a very young age (Flood 3). This can cause little girls to want to also be considered "hot" and "sexy". This concept can be very harmful for young girls because they may not be prepared to form their own opinions on healthy sexual behavior. Mattel did not take into account that millions of young girls look up to Barbie and follow her every move. Young girls seeing the new Barbie may cause young girls to think this is how they need to look and dress because Barbie impacts what young girls think is beautiful. When young girls see this super skinny half naked Barbie with all her perfect characteristics, they begin to want it to because it is all they see.
In 2009, a pregnant Barbie was released named Midge (McKay 55). The Midge Barbie doll came with a magnetic belly that could hold two babies inside and would attach to her belly. When she was ready to give birth, you took off the belly and she was ready to begin motherhood (McKay 55). Many people found this to be controversial because they felt it promoted teen pregnancy. Mattel defended their selves by stating the doll could provide a starting point for discussing sexuality and reproduction with young children (McKay 56). Mattel did not take in to account that every parent has different beliefs about how they want to talk to their children about sexuality and reproduction. In the earlier productions of this doll, it was also controversial that Mattel did not give Midge wedding ring and parents did not want their children thinking that being unwed and pregnant was accepted (McKay 56). This last controversy was later fixed but the Barbie doll was still pulled from