This is round two of my posts about Barbie and Bratz and this time, I am going to focus more on the negatives. In my last post, Barbie works long hours!, I wrote about Barbie’s various careers and the image that she has from these. Now, the problems with Barbie. There are many problems with Barbie that I have often read about, such as pinkification, being a ‘shopaholic’ and especially, having such unrealistic body proportions. I knew about all of these but it wasn’t until I read an article called Dying to be Barbie that I realised the full extent of the issue. This very interesting article provided me with some shocking facts. According to a study conducted by The Yale Centre for Eating and Weight Disorders, the average woman would have to grow two feet taller, extend her neck by 3.2 inches, gain 5 inches in chest size, and lose 6 inches off her waist in order to resemble Barbie. In my opinion, this shows just how badly thought out Barbie was in the first place. How could the designers have possibly thought that the doll they were making was an even remotely realistic representation of even the slimmest woman’s proportions?
Of course, Barbie’s body is only the first of her many problems. There is then the issue of her role as a consumer, really as a ‘shopaholic’. No matter where she is, Barbie loves to shop! Surely this gives out a negative image to children, that girls and women should shop frequently, and enjoy it?This stems from the traditional role of women in the home and builds on a more modern image of women and girls shopping more than men, especially for clothes.
Next, there is the pink issue. Same old, same old, Barbie wears too much pink. Could this encourage girls to feel under pressure to wear pink or to feel that other colours are off limits to them? The pressure to wear pink doesn’t just come from Barbie, but there is a big possibility that, as a popular children’s toy, she adds to the problem.
There are also the Bratz dolls. I had one Bratz doll, Bratz Explorer. She came wearing jeans, jacket and a khaki t-shirt, equipped with phone, rucksack, lamp, camera, binoculars and a pair of pyjamas. Just what you need to go exploring! Unfortunately, she no longer seems to be on the market, which I think is a great pity because she is truly an example of inspiring girls to be whatever they want to be. I can’t help but wonder why the doll is no longer available, a lack of inclination among girls to become explorers perhaps?
Bratz have been the centre of some controversy over the apparent sexualization of the Bratz dolls. This has been thought to be inappropriate for a doll aimed at young children. From looking at the official Bratz website, I can see quite a range of dolls. There are three superhero dolls, unfortunately, they are all wearing high heels, which seem impractical garb for saving the world in. Each superhero has a special power, either flight, speed or a Super Twirl. While I see the uses of flight and speed, I fail to understand the purpose of a Super Twirl.
Another Bratz range is My Passion. In this range, each doll has a job. It starts off promisingly, with a web designer and a music DJ. The other two are fashion designer and a fashion blogger. Need I say more? What I have discovered that might compete with my Bratz Explorer is a Bratz In the Wild range. This range has four dolls, each comes with a pet, a travel bag, a phone, torch and bottle to feed the pet with. So far, it sounds alright. Now let’s look a bit closer. Apparently, these Bratz are planning to trek in the jungle, but as you can see from the picture, they’re not very well dressed for it. I don’t know what you would wear in a jungle, but my outfit of choice wouldn’t include a dress or heels.
Anyway, to conclude this rather long post, I have to say that I’m not that impressed with either Bratz or Barbie. While I’m not sure how much real influence dolls have on young children, I think it is true to say that it is unhealthy for young children to play with toys whose makers put such stress on clothes and looking good.
What do you think? Do Bratz and Barbie really influence the children who play with them? And if they do, are Barbie and Bratz influencing children in a positive way?