In reading through everyone’s blog posts thus far, it seems that there is a linkage for many between Disney princesses and their childhood. Reflecting on this in conjunction with stumbling upon a USA Today article, got me thinking that beauty is most definitely a social construction. This is obvious but often forgotten. The article I read was about how Mattel, the maker of Barbie, is revamping their doll to better suit the progressive ideals we have today about standards of beauty. The company is hoping to release 33 new dolls by the end of the year. New body types for this year’s dolls include tall, curvy, and petite.
This article reminded me how when I was a child, my parents would not allow me to play with dolls, especially Barbie dolls. I never really understood why and I remember always being slightly vexed since my other friends were allowed to. I recall being told that they didn’t want me to end up wanting to be like the doll I never had. It’s kind of funny because I always wanted to be tall and blonde with blue eyes, which clearly didn’t happen but that’s basically a Barbie, aside from the completely unrealistic proportions. I always told my parents they didn’t need to worry about me being consumed by beauty standards and superficial things.
Being older now, their reasoning was clear. The younger years of a person’s life are key to the manner in which they learn to think and view the world they live in. The child develops values, and standards, which are indefinitely shaped by society and media in all forms. Not to mention how the majority of media is centered around the male gaze…how annoying. It makes me happy to see that Mattel is trying to keep up with society’s changing values, but at the same time, people should understand that Barbie is just a piece of plastic. Barbie’s trademark is blonde, tall, and thin; I’m torn that the whole brand is changing and that the iconic look is no longer. Just food for thought.
Here is the link to the short online article (there’s also a video of the evolution of Barbie, which is kind of cool): USA Today Article