Is Obese Barbie really the way forward?

Eimear Heuston

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With eating disorders still a huge problem in todays society people are becoming more interested in the impact the media is having on us today. Everyone is condemning these magazines bombarding us with images of frighteningly thin models and giving us endless amounts of tips on how to achieve such a look. People are getting angry about it and rightly so.

It is said that the most vulnerable to these messages are the children of our society and this brings further concerns. We all saw the images of Barbie next to a mock up of what she would look like if she was made with realistic measurements and it was clear, even to a child, that Barbie was perhaps sending the wrong message about body image. Of course its not to say that all children aspire to look like Barbie or GI Joe, however with most studies done on adolescence in relation to the medias impact on body image showing a huge desire among young people to be thinner and taller, it seems plausible that childrens toys may have the same impact on them.

 

Barbie next to "Real Girl" version.
Barbie next to “Real Girl” version- pinterest.

As this debate progresses many have been campaigning to bring more realistic representation of women into the media with things such as rallying to get more plus size models in magazines and campaigns. The majority of plus sized models being used today are perfectly representative of your average women mostly being sizes 12-16, which begs the question why are they being called plus sized in the first place?

 

Plus size model Katya Zharkova.
Plus size model Katya Zharkova- pinterest.

But now people are looking for similar representation for children. Plus Size Modeling.com posted a picture of an obese Barbie and asked if it should be made. This caused an outpour of support and anger. Some people felt this would be good for obese children to have a toy that represented them and would make them more comfortable with their bodies, however with childhood obesity on the rise should we be encouraging children to be comfortable with something that is doing them serious damage and will cause a vast amount of health issues that could follow them for life? Are we all becoming too casual about the very real dangers of obesity?

Obese Barbie.
Obese Barbie- Plus-Size-Modeling.com.

Of course parents have to take responsibility for their child’s health but by jumping from one extreme to the other we are just continuing to spread the wrong message. This seems to me to be just as bad as promoting the sickly thin figure some magazines do. I fully agree we should campaign for more realistic representation however shouldn’t we stick to a message of health and wellbeing which obesity is not. Can’t we all agree to promote a healthy happy lifestyle where people eat properly and don’t starve themselves yet eat better and not damage their bodies?

 

What do you think? Is an obese Barbie the way forward or are we allowing something that is life-threatening continue to become a norm of our society?

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Eimear Heuston

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  • I would just like to say that the majority of “plus size” models used ARE NOT sized 12-16 they are sizes 8-10 a few are 12.

  • oh and i agree completely that childhood obesity is taken way too casually! It is a huge problem with huge health complications! I am a family physician and most parents that are obese will have obese children. They don’t realize that the health problems that they have are 100% only due to their weight and they shouldn’t have these problems until they are 60-70 (if ever) not 30-40 and that their obese children will have them at 15-30!