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Can A Toy Be A Bad Role Model? [POLL]

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Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Although she’s been around since 1959, she’s usually identified as a typical American teenager. Children (mostly, but not exclusively girls) have made her one of the most popular toys in the world, selling at the rate of two every second! So why does Barbie seem to get into so much trouble?

While many mothers [and a few grandmothers] of today’s girls grew up playing with Barbie, the line of dolls have had some complaints. Recently, a version that featured a video camera was criticized by the FBI, which warned the doll could be used to make child pornography [although the Bureau had not found any examples of this happening]. Back in the 1990’s, Barbie manufacturer Mattel created a wheelchair-bound friend , named Share A Smile Becky. A real teenager confined to a wheelchair pointed out that Becky’s chair wouldn’t fit in the elevator included in the Barbie Dream House. There have been ongoing problems when Mattel attempted to introduce dolls with different racial identities than the Caucasian Barbie [older dolls usually used the same head molds for the white version of the dolls to make the racially-diverse models. Mattel has addressed the problem in recent years, creating more representative dolls].

But the big problem for some parents is that Barbie seems to be a poor role-model for growing girls. And not just for her possession-oriented lifestyle. Physically, Barbie may be putting an unrealistic image out for girls to emulate. If Barbie were a real person:

• She would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe.
• Barbie calls this a “full figure” and likes her weight at 110 lbs.
• At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
• If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
• Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” with directions inside stating simply “Don’t eat.”

Many mothers and fathers look on their children enjoying the fantasy world of Barbie as a normal part of childhood, while others see her as an unrealistic, unhealthy example to their kids.

Which way do you see it?

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