Confirming what we suspected all along, new research confirms that dolls who have unrealistically thin bodies can cause young girls to have body-image issues.
Published in September issue of the journal Body Image, the dual study looked at girls ages 6 to 8. In one group, the girls played with either traditional Barbie dolls (not the new tall, curvy, or petite versions) or fuller-figured Tracy (Turnblad, from Hairspray!) dolls. Regardless of whether the dolls were dressed in swimsuits or more modest clothing, the girls who played with the Barbies showed a higher dissatisfaction in their own bodies. The girls who played with the curvier dolls experienced more body positivity.
As a safety, researchers had a second group of girls play with dolls that weren't Barbie or Tracy and had either thin and full figures, also dressed modestly or in swimsuits. This group had the same reaction, feeling insecure about their own bodies when they played with the super-skinny dolls.
This news shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone who has ever picked up a Barbie. The doll's original measurements are so anatomically incorrect that if she were a real person, she’d be forced to walk on all fours and wouldn’t even be able to hold her disproportionate head up. And don't forget her feet, permanently molded into standing on her tip-toes to forever wear high heels.
Earlier this year, Mattel finally responded to the ongoing calls for a healthier role model for young girls to play with, announcing that it was giving Barbie a makeover after 57 years to reflect more diverse (and realistic) body types. Now, girls can play with dolls that look more like them and their friends — curvy, tall, and petite.