Areas of Controversy Surrounding Barbie
In the past, some versions of Barbie dolls were criticized for promoting materialistic and superficial values, with dolls sporting accessories like "Sugar Daddy" shopping bags. This raised concerns about the kind of messages being conveyed to young children. Barbie dolls with removable breasts were also released, aimed at teaching children about puberty. This sparked debates on whether it is appropriate to introduce such topics through dolls. And of course, there was a Pregnant Barbie to introduce how babies were made.
Diversity of Barbie
Throughout the years, the Barbie brand has faced criticism for its limited representation of racial, ethnic, religion, and ability diversity. People have called for more inclusive and diverse dolls that better reflect the multicultural world we live in.
Size of Barbie
Barbie's unrealistic body proportions have been a long-standing issue of controversy, with concerns about promoting unrealistic beauty standards and body image issues among young girls.
Patriarchy and Career Options for Women
Barbie's early portrayal as primarily focused on fashion and beauty reinforced traditional gender roles, perpetuating stereotypes about women's roles in society. Critics argued that this limited representation of career options could hinder young girls' aspirations.
This is one of the reasons, Olivia Lauren and I created Olivia Lauren's Occupations A to Z.
The introduction of the Bratz dolls in the early 2000s created competition for Barbie. The Bratz dolls had a more diverse appearance and edgier fashion, prompting Barbie to adapt and expand its offerings to stay relevant. TikTok user has theorized that the four girls are a sly reference to the four original Bratz dolls: Sasha, Yasmin, Jade and Cloe.
IMDB reveals that Sasha's friends are named "Junior High Friend" and not the other three Bratz, Yasmin, Jade, and Cloe. So while there's no concrete proof that this is a direct reference to Bratz, coincidence or not… this theory is genius and the casting is uncanny!!!!
Nevertheless, we were excited to see the diversity as it is crucial for children to see themselves represented in the media they consume, including books, TV shows, and toys. When children see characters that resemble their identities, backgrounds, and experiences, they develop a sense of belonging and self-worth.
Additionally, diverse representation fosters empathy and understanding among children, promoting a more inclusive and tolerant society.
For girls, seeing dolls like Barbie portray a wide range of careers and aspirations beyond traditional gender roles can encourage them to pursue their dreams and challenge societal expectations. Similarly, representation of diverse races, body types, and abilities in toys helps break stereotypes and fosters appreciation for the uniqueness of each individual.
Barbie has continued to dominate the global box office with $781M globally through its second weekend. The Barbie Movie is an entertaining addition to the franchise, while the origin of the Barbie doll dates back to a visionary idea by Ruth Handler. Despite the controversy surrounding various aspects of the Barbie brand, the importance of diverse and inclusive representation in children's media cannot be overstated. It’s worth noting in the film, Barbie Land features a diverse group of Barbies and Kens with a range of body sizes, disabilities, and racial/ethnic backgrounds. Children need to see themselves reflected positively in their books, TV shows, and toys to develop a healthy self-concept and embrace the diversity that surrounds them. As society evolves, it is essential for toy manufacturers and media creators to continue working towards greater inclusivity and representation in their offerings.
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If so, which one? I am Publisher Barbie!! :-)
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