This weekend Refinery29 reported that, according to a new study in the journal, Body Image, super thin dolls cause young girls to have body image problems. Shocking, we know. The study examined girls from ages six to eight. Some played with traditional Barbie dolls, while others played with Tracy Turnblad dolls.
Researchers also examined a second group of girls, half of whom played with very thin dolls that were not Barbie dolls, and half of whom played with bigger, more curvy dolls that were not Tracy dolls.
In both cases, the girls who played with the super thin dolls showed more dissatisfaction with their own bodies than the girls who played with the fuller-figured dolls.
The results of this study are no surprise to us. This is just more evidence proving that we, as a society, have taught girls to see only one narrow idea of beauty from a VERY young age. The bombarding of girls with images of tall, thin women starts long before a teen girl first steps foot in a Victoria’s Secret store. While Mattel did recently create a line of more “realistic” and “body positive” Barbie dolls, as we previously mentioned, they have a long way to go before they can truly say they are promoting body diversity.
With the toys we give children, just as with the advertisements and fashion shows we give adults, we teach women what society views as attractive, beautiful, and ideal. We teach women to aspire to look like what they see, and what they see has historically been a very narrow idea of what beauty is. Girls and women have been comparing themselves to these images and these bodies for decades. We need to start giving girls dolls of all shapes and sizes so that they see beauty in all bodies and stop the comparisons.