Barbies: Causes for ED...?

As a little girl, I loved playing with Barbie dolls. I didn't have many, but was nonetheless fascinated by how beautiful they were. I brushed their hair, changed their clothes, and thoroughly enjoyed my time. Note: You can read more about the Barbie issue here: http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-26465106

You may have heard about how Barbie dolls aren't realistic in that their bodies are 'made' to be smaller than what the average female is like. There is no doubting this - Barbie dolls are, of course, not your typical female. They have ever so slight curves and slim bodies.  This has caused some distress along some people, who say that the bodies of Barbies promote unhealthy ideas about what our bodies should look like. And to some extent, I think they are right. Barbie dolls aren't accurate depictions of what most women look like. But then again, who said they were supposed to be?

As someone recovered from anorexia, I can tell you right away that I never felt angry that I didn't look like a Barbie doll. Yes, I may have compared myself to others or celebrities. But never to a doll. Why? Because my Barbie doll was a toy; it had no saying on how I felt about myself.

However, I see the point of view of others. The concern is that young girls who play with these dolls may come to think that they need to look like them. But, are Barbie dolls to blame for eating disorders and body image ideals in society? I don't think so. I believe there is so much more to this issue than we are considering. Little girls aren't surrounded by Barbie dolls their entire lives. Girls grow up in a society filled with ideas about bodies. These ideas come from other places, such as the media, their friends and role models, the opposite sex, etc.

What's the point? I think Barbie dolls aren't realistic in terms of their bodies. But at the same time, I can't say that this causes little girls to think that they have to be skinny like the dolls. Sure, it may contribute to these ideas, but dolls don't cause eating disorders. Barbie dolls are toys, and if a girl begins to feel that she wants or needs to be skinny, this is likely attributed to a variety of reasons. We can't solely blame the Barbie doll. It would be interesting to see the new proposed Barbie doll, which is supposed to have more accurate body proportions than the current one. Maybe this is a huge shift in our ideas about bodies. However, again, changing a Barbie doll's body isn't going to change the way society sees body image and beauty.
 

We need bigger things to happen. We need education about eating disorders, prevention, and realistic ideals. We need strategies to help redefine the way we view ourselves and our bodies. Maybe we need to help little girls see that they shouldn't compare their bodies to anyone or anything else. Maybe we need to change society's view that our bodies always need to be perfect. Maybe we need to stop thinking of what is causing the problem and instead look at why the problem even exists. is the issue that we compare our bodies to dolls or others...or is the issue that we have become 'trained' to pinpoint what we don't like in our bodies or appearances, and then stop appreciating what we love about ourselves? Food for thought? Yes. And yes, that pun was intended.

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