Balancing Proportions

It is unfair that the letter ‘a’ always comes before the letter ‘t’. You realized that many people feel oppressed because they are always last and get the “short end of the stick.” So you decide to rearrange the alphabet. But you cannot rearrange the alphabet; The same way you can’t have four different people with the same name. It is ridiculous to assume that because it is the same brand all Barbie’s must be named Barbie. By trying to fix a problem Mattel finds themselves creating another. Then again, it is impossible to accommodate everyone in our time. 

Eliana Dockterman’s article on Mattel’s Barbie is contradicting. Part of its contradiction comes from Dockterman’s obvious attempt to accommodate readers who have different points of view. I frankly understand her inconsistency. It is a very complex topic that varies depending which angle you look at it. I do love how Dockterman delivers the facts in a way that helps you determine where your morality lies. 

Ruth Handler was “laughed out of a room” by male toy-makers who thought “nobody would want to play with a doll with breasts.” They were wrong. According to Dockterman’s research, Mattel sold 300,000 dolls that year. Some see Barbie as the start of something greater in a time of oppression, while others see her as the cause of women’s insecurities. Handler never strengthened her attempt to give meaning to that doll with breasts. Based on what I’ve read, Handler’s intentions were never to help the perception of women. As a matter of fact, Barbie was inspired by a German doll, Lilli, who was a prostitute that was commonly handed out at bachelor parties. Oh– and she named her after her daughter, Barbara. It doesn’t strike me as a surprise that Barbie was created based on a prostitute. Many of the cartoons from my childhood originated from messed up stories and if I start to name them, it will take up the free 3GB that WordPress gave me. Barbies origin feeds peoples belief that her image is responsible for Americas misinterpretation of true beauty. 

A doll, out of all things does not determine what beauty is. Happiness is beauty, not your strong jaw-line or your pretty blonde hair, but a simple smile. I don’t know about you but I have never said someone happy looks ugly. Beauty isn’t the clothes you wear, although they do make me confident, but that’s another thing. I would be lying if I said that the reason I’m not smiling isn’t because society doesn’t find me beautiful. I would be ignorant if I said that besides what I see in the mirror, my thoughts don’t linger into others eyes. I’m not dishonest, so I will admit that the media has shaped my body as well as my mind. From doll advertisements to actual people on TV, the media has had a huge impact on my life since I was a little girl. I had a large collection of Barbies, colored Barbies, never my skin tone, darker or lighter but never blonde. When I looked at my dolls I never called them Barbie. There names were Lucy, Carla (of course), Ana, etc. I never named them Barbie because they were not Barbie. Barbie is the tall Blonde girl whose boyfriend’s name is Ken. So when I read how the 6-year-old little girl reacted to seeing “Barbie” a bit chubbier, I wasn’t surprised. That is not Barbie, she should be named Camila or something. The name carries negativity, it has its history and by giving progress the same name that has caused such controversy won’t help them advance. Like Jill Filipovic said, “branding something as empowering is a great marketing tool,” Mattel is a company and regardless of how society feels about their decisions, the most important factor is the profit. However, Mattel has gone through extreme measures to accommodate each costumer. They decided to sell the dolls in sets to avoid false accusations when purchasing a Barbie as a gift, which also helps their income. 

Barbie could be dressed as a doctor, student, veterinarian, librarian, etc., but to me Barbie will always be dependent on Ken. The way I see it is: Barbie is rich, but Ken is wealthier; She has a carrier, but she doesn’t need to work because she already has money. And making Barbie say “Math is tough!” is not going to help her image. She has a reputation and if Mattel wants to make profit, as well as send a positive message, they have to rename this era of Barbies. “Our critics are the same people that should embrace us,” said Dickson. We are supposed to trust someone who believes that putting an astronaut suit on a doll, the same doll who said math was tough and would rather go shopping, is going to change her history. 

I am not blaming all of my insecurities on a doll. But the first time I was exposed to perfection and materialism was when I got a Barbie. Some will blame it on my mother for buying me the doll but it’s not her fault because I was also exposed to Disney’s big-headed Bratz. Not going to lie, Bratz helped me appreciate my forehead a little more. However, Disney is not off the hook, most of their ethnic princesses have Caucasian facial characteristics. Those who do look ethnic have exaggerated qualities like Lilo & Stitch.

Now I’m going to go binge watch Barbie on Netflix. 


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