I like maths. I don’t like objectification. So I’ve found a way to consolidate these two opinions into one, simple rant:
I had dolls when I was younger. Never many, and they weren’t played with that often, but I had just a few who would sit there and observe from my shelf. As much as I felt that internal desire to cut their hair, or cover them in wild tattoos, I could never quite bring myself to do it. They were just too perfect.
I would come home with hair knotted and tangled, but a single strand was never out of place in Barbie’s peroxide hair.
I would worry about my weight, as we all do, but Barbie would sit, unaffected, in her corset-like outfits.
And I would come back from school, distressed by whatever falling out there had been, to see Barbie, who reminded me how perfect I should be.
Now this isn’t to say I hate Barbie. In fact, I genuinely think she’s done a lot of good. I’d like to think the main message any girl would get is that if she wants to be like Barbie, she can also aspire to her jobs as well. Because Barbie is not a housewife. She’s not a salad eating shopaholic, funded by Ken’s money. For fifty years she’s been a professional. She’s been an astronaut, a computer engineer and a doctor at times when less than 1 in 20 women went to university. Surely this should’ve had some impact? She has, admittedly, also been Miss America and a stewardess, but, at the end of the day, its better than nothing. You can be a beauty queen, but you can also be an academic at the same time. Anything’s possible.
However (and this is where the lovely maths comes in), these dolls are just implausible. If we could see that real life Barbie, unable to support her own head and forced to crawl on all fours, would our perceptions of her beauty still be the same? Would young children aspire to (or demand of their partner) to be this unearthly figure? Looking at her measurements, I only have one that matches, and it would be just as easy to have none. As soon as you look at having two matching proportions, the numbers become mind-boggling. And as much as I appreciate the fact its just a doll, it really wouldn’t be too hard to give her a natural waist – or, even more easy, to give her ankles that could actually support the human body.
This is what I really object to. From the age of three or so, girls are already being introduced to ‘the perfect body’. But it doesn’t work. Not only is it unrealistic to expect women to look like this – it is genuinely anatomically impossible. And it doesn’t stop there; from the second we are born we are bombarded with this unachievable ideal. It’s everywhere: adverts, TV, magazines, shops. Recently, H&M came under fire for the models they were using in their adverts. It wasn’t just their figures. It wasn’t a ridiculous waist, or unfeasible legs. It wasn’t the flawless skin or plastic-surgery scandals.
These models had been computer generated.
So is this it now? The ideal has been stretched so far that it is genuinely impossible for any human being to possess it. Well that’s brilliant isn’t it? Disney princesses are being converted into sex symbols. Primark are selling padded bikinis. There’s so much that needs to be changed. But what I really want to see, more than anything, is a doll that the younger me would be comfortable drawing tattoos on. One that looked like the women I saw around me. The sort of women I should actually aspire to be.
This is amazing, and also horrible report on eating disorders: dying to be Barbie
And also, this is amazing: dolls without make-up