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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-26-24 PDF
February 26, 2024
An inside look at Bobby B. Beacon’s insides. Illustrated by Bianca Oppedisano/ Mass Media Staff.
Bobby's Inside Story
February 26, 2024

Plus Size Barbie, Plus Size Problem

Mattel+recently+announced+it+would+be+making+a+plus-size+Barbie+doll.

Mattel recently announced it would be making a “plus-size” Barbie doll.

The right idea for the wrong reasons. It’s impossible to flip through any media outlet today, from scrolling along a Facebook newsfeed to the pages of so-called “beauty magazines” without finding evidence of the Body Positivity Movement. And while I’m a fierce supporter of self-confidence, I wonder if Mattel’s new vision of this “toy” is having an unintended and opposite effect.
With phrases like “big is beautiful” and “real women have curves” infiltrating the common vernacular, there is no clear line drawn between being healthy and happy; these phrases are used as a crutch to justify a potentially dangerous lifestyle.  My thoughts: there is no such finite line to govern every female who walks this earth. Isn’t being happy and healthy more important than fitting into a cookie-cutter body type, anyway?
With the buzz from Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, hailed as progressive for featuring three plus-size models on the cover, the crossover between strength and beauty seems to get a bit lost. It’s progressive for the long-standing swimsuit issue to aid in the re-definition of beauty standards, yet not for glorifying Ronda Rousey’s accomplishments when she is not in a painted-on swimsuit.  
But here’s my gripe: the emphasis is still being placed on the wrong ideals. What is the point of Barbie? How has the idea of Barbie dolls evolved over time since her first mass-production in 1959? And to what end do these ideas reflect in the youth that Barbie dolls are supposedly marketed towards? In essence, how does politicizing a young girl’s toy make her want to become a better person? Over time, the vast array of Barbies being introduced into the toy market have quite possibly encouraged young women to entertain the idea of becoming doctors, veterinarians, dentists, chefs, super spies, and firefighters. Even without feminism losing stigma and becoming more widely accepted, I still have aspirations of being Black Widow. Sigh. A girl can dream.
Oh, and for the record, Ken dolls remain unchanged and without other body-type purchasing options, making my personal inner feminist very angry at the blatant double standards. If the underlying purpose is to level the playing field, then for the love of all things, please level the entire thing, not just one side. Thank you for your consideration.
I get it. I’m an idealist and a perpetual optimist. For all intents and purposes this is an OPINION piece, meaning the opinion is my own. And the end result remains unchanged: I will not be purchasing a Plus Size OR Original Barbie for myself (or any of the daughters I don’t have). However, if there is one thing I have taken from the Body Positivity Movement; it’s that no one’s opinion of lifestyle choices really matter but one’s own. And if the underlying lesson to be learned here is geared towards empowering young women, regardless of their physical appearance, then more props to Mattel.