Why Society is All Wrong About Barbie. ~ Daffnee Cohen

Via Daffnee Cohen
on Jul 6, 2014
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It’s crept up on us everywhere: skinny shaming Barbie, putting her down for her unrealistic bodily proportions and long wavy locks.

“She’s giving the wrong impression to children!” we say. “She’s causing low self-esteem!” we preach.

Barbie has been around for decades and suddenly there’s outcry. Where did poor Barbie go wrong? I’ll tell you what—she didn’t. Barbie is the same innocent toy she always has been.

The problem is not with Barbie, video games, television or any of the other toys we allow our kids to play with. The majority of the issues our children are facing have nothing to do with the material goods they get their hands on. Ideas of body perfection are created and developed by the subjective and emotional experiences we create with our children—in our homes and as our relationships play out each day.

Leading by example, and showing our children the things that truly matter in the long run, will build a realistic and sustainable foundation that will shine through their experiences as they grow up.

Spending quality time with our kids, not only as parents, but as siblings, aunts, uncles and mentors, will bring light to the things that are of value in our world: compassion, love, ambition and happiness. Visual appearances have their importance, whether we want them to or not, and teaching our youth that they don’t is doing them a disservice. It’s as unrealistic as Barbie’s waist.

Toys and material objects can play a role in both good and bad self-perception if we allow them to, but what we project out into the world comes from within.

As a child, I had a Barbie collection to die for. I loved using my imagination to create stories and events. Did my mom ever worry about the effect Barbie was having on me? Not at all. Why? The scenarios I created within my Barbie world directly reflected my values and all of the important things I learned as a child.

My mom taught me to be kind to people and stand up for what was right, no matter what. She taught me that people are good and we don’t always understand where someone came from or why someone does what they do, but we have to stay true to ourselves.

These principles were the foundation for the world I created for my Barbies.

My play did not deal with jealousy and anger or resentment and self-loathing. It came from what I knew within me.

Most importantly, my mom taught me this: Barbies are not real. Barbies are toys. Barbies can be used as projections of your imagination; something you use to get away from the real world but they are not real life.

They do not do your homework or make friends at school for you. They are not responsible for your chores and for speaking to your family members with respect. It was that simple!

The problem is taking something that represents a fantasy world and directly correlating it to real life.

We aren’t telling Transformers to tone down the muscles, are we?

It’s a double standard and, as a society, we are using Barbie as a scapegoat for the bigger issue of a lack of involvement and parenting.

The problem today isn’t that kids are suddenly confused about what they should look like and that Barbie should be a realistic goal for their appearance.

The more important issue here is that parents are relying on technology and other devices to teach their kids these valuable lessons. Time without an interruption from a smart phone, tablet or t.v. is rare.

Spending time with the young people in our lives without these distractions will show us how raw and real they are—dying to soak up our knowledge and affection. We can teach them these things from our heart.

While we’re at it, leave Barbie alone! She’s just awesome.

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Apprentice Editor: Guenevere Neufeld / Editor: Cat Beekmans

Photo: Flickr / Freddycat1


About Daffnee Cohen

Daffnee Cohen is a writer, fitness instructor, entrepreneur, and business owner. With a strong passion for education, marketing, health and personal growth, Daffnee leverages online marketing to highlight messages, brands, and social movements. Daffnee has worked on multiple NY Times Best Selling campaigns and has contributed articles to the Orlando Sentinel. She is currently working on her first book, a framework for young entrepreneurs. Check out her website.


7 Responses to “Why Society is All Wrong About Barbie. ~ Daffnee Cohen”

  1. Jenna says:

    THANK YOU! I loved my Barbies when I was a child and I never had a body image issue because of it. In fact, none of my friends did! I managed to grow up, go to college, become a teacher, get married and have two children. In fact, I used to act out Barbie being a teacher to all my other Barbie's (and Ken) , that one could argue that she had an influence on my career choice. What did have an influence on my healthy body image and positive self-esteem was a mother who never used self deprecation as a tool when speaking about herself.

  2. Peter Ricci says:

    My thoughts have always been that women no matter the shape or size are ultinately defined by their personalities.

    The problem is in this works of instant feedback through social media we feel we need to pretend who we are instead of forge deeper relationships with our immediate friends.

    My hope is that we all forget about reading nonsense Online and out of devices down, smile and say how are you?

    Forget about the world we want to live in and live in the world that’s sitting right here in front of us

    I am now going to out this phone down and say hello to the non babrie girl in front of me!


  3. Gigi says:

    Way to go, Daffnee! I'm a Barbie girl, too, and proud of it! 🙂

  4. Daffnee says:

    I love that Jenna! Thank you for the feedback. I agree. On the contrary, Barbie was a self sufficient, educated woman with careers and her own things!! Thanks!!!

  5. Tracy says:

    As a future fashionista, my only problem with Barbie's shape was that her insane proportions made it hard to design and make clothes for her, and she was difficult to dress!! I still had hours of fun working out the kinks.

  6. Taylor says:

    I loveeeee this!! I agree with you 100%! Barbie has always been Barbie. She's got more ambition than any other toy on the market. She has adventures, a guy (sold separately!) and a snazzy dream house. Barbie didn't become self-centered and self hating. The dialogue my friends and I had with our dolls ranged from Miss America (I do believe I won when my talent was a race car driver) to Tarzan, climbing Mt Everest, being doctors, teachers, lawyers, professional poker players.. you name it! I loved Barbie because she gave my friends and I something to do for about 10 years. That doll has so much potential to help girls use their imagination and play together. I agree that she isn't realistic. No one is arguing that she is the All American Woman. She's a toy. Maybe Barbie will get some size 8-10 friends in the future. Those dolls will be just as cool if that friend gets a house and a car and has outfits galore. I don't think it is a bad idea to introduce more variety to the line of dolls. But adding diversity to all toys might be a good idea.. Though, It's not the blonde hair and tiny waist that attract young girls to play with her. It's the possibilities of becoming anything you want her to be.

  7. Great post Daffnee! I don't understand why other people make a big deal about Barbie and their figure. Barbie is just a doll created to perfection but we are human, we are responsible for our own body/figure. We can have beautiful body or not depends on how we take care of our body.