Breaking up with Barbie

Updated: Mar 18


freelance-feminist-fashion-designer

We've loved each other for years, doll, but lately, I think we just want different things.  It's not you, it's the rest of the world. The universe is changing and it's safe to say this was long over due. It's been a long 60 years since your first début on the scene in 1959. You had to know something was gonna give, eventually.


Throughout my entire childhood, I always loved and adored Barbie. She was a fun and creative way I was able to express myself through play and fashion. I loved that she let me dabble in adulthood while I was still just a girl. She offered mature story lines to live out through her, but perhaps that's not exactly what little girls need at this time of adolescence.


I imagine a lot of women from my generation had the same relationship with Barbie that I did. I saw her as an irresistible icon of fashion, beauty and confidence. Barbie could do anything, be anything or have anything and so she did. Seeing that Barbie be anything also assured me that my own limits could be stretched too, so our relationship had its benefits.


I was addicted to Barbie. I remember begging my mom for a new doll pretty much anytime we went to a store that sold them. I had so many variations of her, all her friends, dope outfits, the flyest cars and a dream house galore. I even had a Barbie sized washing machine and dryer set that had manual buttons that made the machines spin and tumble. It seems Barbie's always had a bit of a problem with female stereotypes. She can go to the moon, sure, but she's still in charge of the laundry when she gets back from the international space station.


While Barbie introduced me to my love of the fashion scene when I was a little girl, she was also the first female to teach me the feeling of unworthiness, and gender stereotyping though I didn’t recognize it at the time. I’m sure she didn’t mean to — she’s just a doll. Just looking at her completely made up body type on a regular basis could make any young girl question her own shape and attractiveness. It's a warped view of what women should look like, even if the packaging is attractive. As a doll, she's beautiful, sure, but if we saw someone who looked like Barbie walking down the street, we'd probably all run for the hills. Her body would be so out of whack that she might look like another species coming to attack Earth.


Her so-called ‘perfect’ hour glass figure and unattainable beauty standards are her worst features. Over time, this incorrect thinking of what our bodies are "supposed" to look like becomes embedded in our psyche. We took a made up, unrealistic figure and then told ourselves that's what we should all aspire to. We gave ourselves completely unrealistic expectations, with no opportunity for success without major reconstructive surgery. We are all products of what we grew up around. It's obviously not just limited to Barbie's but the way we're marketed to as children, young women and beyond. Sometimes we grow strong enough to ignore it, but not everyone does unfortunately. Some women live with self-doubt their whole lives, never knowing what it feels like to be comfortable in your own skin.


Barbie made us believe we need to fit a very specific mold, not that unlike the very mold she’s made from. Except real women aren’t made of smooth, shiny plastic, we aren’t meant to reach perfection, just strive for it and that's okay. We were created as flawed, imperfect, genuine, so that we can be authentic to our true selves. Why? Because that's how we can live our best lives and feel complete. Being connected to who we are on the inside, even if it's not perfect is what gives people a sense of meaning and purpose.


A rising trend among women is a shift of behavior to one of self-love and care instead of body dysmorphia and hate. Instead of modeling ourselves after perfection, we’re embracing our flaws and putting them out there on our terms and in our way. Fashion body type trends are constantly shifting, just as the rest of the world evolves towards trends of efficiency, diversity, and inclusion. We're slowly moving the dial, but lately we've made bigger gains and it has a lot to do with social media and the way we share ourselves.


Sharing on social has paved the way for more and more people to show who they are with the world under the conditions they choose. Embracing flaws can come at a time when you're ready and seeing others do it first makes it that much easier for us to all start accepting ourselves. What I love about these posts the most is the huge amount of support these people receive for putting themselves out there. Sure, there's always some haters, but the amount of love and support these people get is amazing and it always thrills me to see the positive comments.


From a company perspective, Aerie was one of the main front-runners of this disruption in the lingerie industry and thank goodness for them paving the way! With more companies out in the open, showing models that are Photoshop free, women can truly start to embrace their bodies as they are and not the way we've pretended they are for so long. I really love the campaigns that have featured real women as opposed to models as well and the All Woman Project.


There's still a long way to go and the world is evolving every day. The one thing that has to change is our relationship with our bodies and that shift should start in childhood. Peace out out Barbie, we’re finding some new role models that are pure imperfection and that is super cool.


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