"Holding Barbie, the quintessential fashion doll, up as a role model for Girl Scouts simultaneously sexualizes young girls, idealizes an impossible body type, and undermines the Girl Scouts' vital mission to build girls' courage, confidence and character," said Susan Linn, Director of The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood.
This is ludicrous. Playing with Barbie and other fashion dolls do no more to create body issues for young girls than girls playing "house" with baby dolls create an epidemic of teenage pregnancies. In fact, if you look at Mattel's fastest growing brand, Monster High, those dolls represent ghouls, vampires and other monsters. Children, even young ones, are more intelligent than people given them credit for. Nobody is taking these characters as anything but characters and children aren't having their self-esteem crushed because they can't grow fangs or don't have green and purple skin or otherworldly powers.
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Toys, like dolls, are meant to encourage creative play, which, in a world where children's creativity is more stifled by technology that it allows for little imagination, should be welcomed.
I know a lot about dolls. I played with dolls as a child (mostly Cher and her fabulous Bob Mackie costumes, since my mom didn't think Barbie was fashionable enough). I even have my own fashion doll/action figure fashioned in my likeness and my company has a joint venture with fashion doll manufacturer Integrity Toys that engages with adult collectors of fashion dolls (see photo above). I have interacted with generations of girls of all ages â€” and some boys, too â€” that play with dolls, and not one ever felt that Barbie or any other fashion doll was a real standard to be held up to.
While characters don't create self-esteem issues, real people do. Women of all ages are judged and valued based on their looks, first, a dangerous cultural obsession that creates an impression that instead of getting better with experience and age, a female has some sort of expiration date or tipping point whereby she becomes less worthy over time. Celebrities are "Photoshopped" to unrealistic perfection in magazines and models on the runway are stick thin. Barely dressed women are objectified in one of the fastest growing restaurant categories with locations called "Twin Peaks" and "Mugs and Jugs" that have locations throughout suburban America and even as professional cheerleaders at sporting events.
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America has a problem with its treatment of women, but don't blame Barbie.