Barbies Are Not Just For Girls and Other Thoughts on the Plastic Doll That Shaped Generations

Gender is an issue that is difficult to fully encompass. For a long time, American citizens have been strictly defined by a gender binary, the social concept of more than two genders was not accepted. The sex you were born with was the gender you were assigned. Slowly but surely, Americans are breaking out of these clearly defined roles and blurring the lines of gender and gender roles. This can be seen with the Barbie doll.

Recently, the Barbie doll, a controversial child’s toy, made strides in breaking gender norms. A Forbes article touched on the actions of Mattel, the struggling company that made a change, including a young male in a commercial with one of their new dolls. The reason this can be seen as progress is in the past Barbies were associated with “females only”. This is a gender stereotypical idea that limits progress for gender. By creating a coed commercial, the company is promoting the idea that toys are not gendered objects. For example, the same type of toy may be called a doll if provided to a female or an “action figure” if provided to a male. Pushing sexes into specific genders is a practice needs to be broken down. Identity should be decided by the individual, not society.

Furthermore, when focusing on specific gender: the female, Barbie dolls have had other issues with body image. A common theme among protests against the doll is that its shape is unfair to young girls finding their confidence and identity, since the norm created by Barbie for a long period of time, was a white woman with extremely skinny and somewhat disproportionate body features. By pushing this doll company to create a more diverse reflection of what female means, there is a more positive effect on young females.

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