I read today on the news that Mattel plans on releasing 3 new Barbie’s: tall, petite and curvy Barbie. I read through the comments and it shocked me how against inclusion people really are in regards to the toy company changing a beloved toy icon. I saw a lot of comments like:
- “Next thing you know it’ll be Obese Barbie!”
- “So stupid. Barbie isn’t meant to be ‘curvy’. Leave the classics alone.”
- “Coming next a Barbie so fat she cannot walk and has a wheelchair to get around, and next the one that is so fat she cannot get out of bed – it’s all about making people feel represented! Yeah Mattel.”
- “This whole PC thing is wayyyyyy outta hand…. What’s next…tranny barbie, butch barbie.. The list goes in…leave toys alone..and let parents raise and teach the kids ..smh”
Wow. I didn’t know being inclusive was so frowned upon in toys. I mean I know American’s act like they are inclusive and that we are a melting pot but the real of it is most American’s are fucking lying. If it takes away from them or challenges the views of what “the norm” is, Americans get pissy and defensive QUICK.
My comment on this post reads:
“I’m all for inclusion but this will open up a can of worms (as you can already see in the comments). If Barbie is going to try and fit more demographics of people, only released 3 modified versions of Barbie isn’t enough. How about a disabled Barbie that isn’t the Paralympian Barbie or the Becky Barbie that’s in a wheelchair (but doesn’t fit into Barbie’s dream house or any of the other Barbie houses due to the size of the chair- major design flaw Mattel)? How about an amputee Barbie? How about a Middle Eastern or Asian Barbie that isn’t overtly racist looking? If you are going to offer change without equally representing all social groups, prepare for plenty of bitching and complaining.”
After reading the article and responding, I started thinking about the idea of a Barbie that represented me. As a kid, I wanted to see myself in my toys to help me escape my problems. Barbie herself didn’t represent me. She was a blonde…but Theresa (Barbie’s friend) was a brunette and I totally saw me in her.
I think that idea still stands today that children want to imagine and see themselves in their toys. So what if there’s a child out there with a congenital amputation or was born with a stoma in their neck or a facial birthmark: where’s their representation? How can they see themselves in toys that don’t represent them? Mattel will probably never get on board and make enough Barbies to please everyone, it’s not feasible. Luckily, there are companies like Makies (mymakie.com), who specially create dolls to fit any sort of child so that all children feel included!
I remember when I first got sick and had lost my leg, I was 17 and hadn’t played with Barbie’s for years but I still was very fond of her knowing she was my childhood friend. When I was at the height of my depression during chemo, my social worker gave me Paralympian Barbie as a gift, hoping it would make me feel better and it did to some degree but the reality was she was a still two legged. Once I was out of chemo, I kept her for sentimental reasons and boxed her up.
Today after reading this Barbie article, I was cleaning and came across my Paralympian Barbie, smiling up at me from the bottom of a storage tote, and I thought to myself, “I can almost see myself in you, you just need one thing.” I took her out of the box, brushed her hair, took her outfit off and then broke off her right leg at the knee joint. I apologized to her (I’ve seen Toy Story…she could have feelings, who knows?) and then proceeded to alter her outfit. I sewed up the right leg, dressed her and put her in her chair. Now I saw myself in her completely and she was every bit as beautiful as she had always been, leg or not.
I’ve been struggling with loving myself recently because of my amputation and I’ve been trying to do things to make my soul feel less burdened and less heavy by it…this small art project feels like it’s lifted a small amount of that burden. Not all of it but enough for me to know that if Barbie can still be beautiful and have the body I do, then that can reflect in me also. I just need to see it.