Barbie's 50th Birthday: Is She Bad for Body Image?

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Barbie 50th birthday

1974 Barbie Town House/Mattel.com

Did you play with Barbies as a kid?

I adored mine. I kept her perfectly coiffed; I married her off to various Ken dolls; I and saved the boxes each one came in. I would play Barbies with my friends and, if they were nice to me, I'd share my Barbie Town House. Maybe I'd even let them put their shabbier-looking Barbies into my Barbie Star Vette.

Today is Barbie's 50th Birthday.  She is middle-aged, but she sure doesn't look like it. I loved my Barbies, and I don't think she caused my body image issues. I blame those on Miami Vice and Falcon Crest.

Some of my mommy friends are very anti-Barbie. So much so that they won't let their kids play with her.

My girls already have a few Polly Pockets, and I will get them a Barbie if and when they ask for one. I try to give them confidence in their looks in many ways, like encouraging sports and going outside to swim and play. But they have so many more dolls and toys to choose from than I did. We didn't have American Girl and Bratz in the early '80s.

I think Barbie is just trying to make her way in the changing landscape--like the rest of us. Mattel (also the maker of Polly Pocket and American Girl) is promoting Barbie heavily on her birthday and offering new versions of the doll. This week, you can buy a Barbie for just $3, the price she was when she debuted in 1959. She is wearing a '50s-style bikini.

Meanwhile, some people charge Barbie with ruining girls' body image. She does have very large boobs, an impossibly tiny waist, and she has worked at McDonald's. But at least Barbie was also an Olympic athlete. The new tattoo Barbie also caused quite a stir last week. See the discussion about it in the Answers section where one CafeMom asked, What do you think of Tattoo Barbie?

I hope I'm cool enough to get a tattoo when I'm 50.

What do you think? Does Barbie harm our body image? Or is she innocent?

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