Janice is in her local Target store, shopping with her daughter Emily. Naturally, Janice and Emily wind up in the toy department, where she’s actually considering buying Emily a new doll. Janice and Emily reach the Barbie dolls, all kinds of varieties. Janice’s daughter is ‘oohing’ and ‘ahhing’ like only a little girl can. The next thing out of her mouth is…
“MOM! Why don’t you look more like HER?!”
Emily is pointing at a Barbie, and as Janice gets closer, she sees that it is none other than the new “Yoga Barbie”. You’ve got to be kidding. Is this some kind of joke?You can imagine the shock and embarrassment Janice feels. Her face turns flush; other shoppers look around nervously, waiting for her reaction. Inside she’s screaming “I hate Barbie!” and cursing the Mattel toy brand. How dare they invent a Barbie that basically tells young girls you have to work out and be thin!
We’ll get back to that moment in the store shortly…
So here’s the scoop- Barbie has a new product line supposedly designed to encourage young girls that they can do anything, called the “I Can Be…” line. Barbie is featured doing all kinds of things, but primarily, to be a good role model for little girls all over the world.
The blond, busty bombshell is featured in a tiny tank top and tight stretch pants, striking a ridiculous pose, with her leg actually pulled up behind her head. This is actually what you see when you see Yoga Barbie for the first time!
Inside she’s screaming “I hate Barbie!” and cursing the Mattel toy brand. How dare they invent a Barbie that basically tells young girls you have to work out and be thin…
Sure, yoga is a great source of fitness motivation and empowerment for young girls, and we certainly want our daughters to believe that they can be whatever they want when they grow up. Encouraging our kids at a young age to be healthy and in good shape is increasingly more important with the all too familiar obesity epidemic that is plaguing our country.
But on the other hand, is this really a positive body image? Does having the perfect body and encouraging girls to obsess over what can be seen as a weight loss program at such a young age make sense? Maybe Barbie needs to undergo some changes before we let our daughters have one.
How about we give Barbie a regular sized body? Not a tiny waist with huge breasts. Maybe without the perfect face and long blonde hair. Let’s show our kids a version of Barbie that real women might be able to look like, a Barbie that is satisfied with looking healthy, not perfection. This fake Barbie would look ridiculous if it were a real woman, and would most likely be hunched over at the waist due to the size of her breasts!
This Barbie is not any real woman’s version of perfection. Why are we continuing to teach our children about revering unrealistic expectations of body image? The Barbie line has not always struck out, not long ago, the same line introduced Presidential Barbie, and there are numerous other Barbie’s that focus on athletes that are encouraging to our young girls.
But Janice also decided to use this as a teaching moment for herself…
So back to the store.
Janice decides to use this situation as a teaching moment. She took a deep breath, and told her daughter that if that was really the Barbie she wanted, that she could have it. Janice went over her belief that all women are beautiful inside and out, and this version of Barbie just looked a little different from her mommy. While this Barbie is a yoga teacher, mommy’s job is to take care of her. The other adults in the store breathed a sigh of relief and some smiled at the patience it must have taken for this mom to regain composure.
Emily, in love with her new perfect doll, was content and didn’t know her mom was upset.
But Janice also decided to use this as a teaching moment for herself. She realized that she didn’t actually hate Barbie, or Mattel. They aren’t trying to insult overweight women. Maybe this situation just forced Janice to confront her own issues. She knew she had weight issues, and although she was going along with her life pretending to ignore it, her daughter wasn’t ‘wrong’. While it stung, maybe Janice just needed a wakeup call to get herself in shape, and this was the thing to do it.
Janice took the experience to heart, as this small moment in time encouraged her to be her very best. Not to want to look like Barbie, but to be strong, and to take what she realized the intention of the “I Can Be…” line to mean. Janice exercises regularly, and even though she doesn’t look like Yoga Barbie (or WANT to look like Yoga Barbie!); she’s lost a few pounds and continues to do her best to strive for a healthy body size and image. If Janice can be a good role model for her daughter, that is setting a better example than any Barbie doll ever could.
Her initial shock and sadness when her daughter announced that she needed to look more like yoga Barbie turned into pride that she was able to teach her daughter a strong lesson that day, and having her mother in her life longer now that she’s more in shape is the best gift her mom could have given her.