Barbie’s back – did she ever go away?
Our fav blonde is so 2017 thanks the Barbie x Missguided fashion collaboration.
Barbie in fashion: controversial and iconic
Barbie’s always falling in and out of favour for her less-than-diverse look; with her tiny frame, sleek blonde hair and enviable wardrobe, the famous toy doll raises issues surrounding white-washing, racism, sexism, eating disorders (to name a few).
That doesn’t stop her from being a fashion icon – and it certainly doesn’t stop brands from using her as their pin-up and collaborating with Mattel to use her trademarked name. And I, being the sucker for marketing that I am, have a few Barbie pieces from Asos, Moschino and now Missguided – the latest retailer to jump in Barbie-Glam-convertible-wagon.
As I looked into Barbie’s turbulent history in the news, it seems that bad headlines do not stop fashion retailers shying away from Barbie. The latest retailer in the Barbie line-up is Missguided.
In 2012, the sales of Barbies fell. But, since then Mattel have tried to change her look and what she signifies, by introducing more diversity in body shape and ethnicity. Now, she seems to be rising in popularity again.
T-shirt: Missguided | Jacket: Missguided | Skirt: Warehouse circa 2015 similar | Bag: Furla | Mules: Office
Barbie in the headlines
We all know the relationship that is drawn between this doll and eating disorders. With her extremely unrealistic and unachievable figure (IRL her bobble head would totally snap her neck – my Barbies were always losing their heads… literally), time and time again, the media tell us how Barbie embodies the ‘perfect image of beauty’ and this can create body dysmorphic disorder from a young age.
Even women and men in adulthood have extensive plastic surgery to look like the popular toy. When you read that – how mad is that sentence?! – People undergo risky surgery to look LIKE A TOY! Here’s one ridiculous, but true, (probably) story:
Barbie fanatic, 46, spends more than £20,000 on plastic surgery to make herself look more like the doll (and she even had the corners of her mouth set in a permanent SMILE)
–Daily Mail (obvs…)
Barbie was invented in 1959. The first black Barbie, Francie, was produced in 1967 – that’s almost a decade later. It’s no secret that Barbie’s makers have always been criticised for not representing enough diversity through the dolls… and when they do – they just get it wrong!
Here are some of the controversial headlines:
The ultimate list of Barbie Fashion collabs
Get ready… This might surprise you!
Lord & Taylor
Mac cosmetics again
(This isn’t even to mention ALL the designers that have designed doll-size Barbie clothes for her – including Lagerfeld, Oscar de la Renta, Dior, Burberry, Coach, La Foret, Versace, Zuhair Murad…. )
Why is Barbie blamed for everything?
From a young age, we’re exposed to Barbie as the ‘perfect’ image of what a girl is supposed to look like. So, arguably, children will grow up aspiring to look like this. This is especially what the newspapers tell us.
But, then again, we’re exposed to sexist marketing towards women in the media all the time. Yet, a toy is the thing that is blamed for upholding gender stereotypes and making little girls unhappy with their image…
So, after all this, why would a 25 year old like me want to wear a Barbie T-shirt in public?? And, more importantly, why do I hold a place for Barbie in my heart, like millions of other women in the world?
In 2016, Mattel tried answering Barbie’s problems and show a better, more diverse representation of society and culture today, by releasing new Barbie of all shapes and sizes.
Grown-ups still love Barbie!
As soon as Moschino released their Barbie collection, I wanted every piece! I bought a headband – don’t ask me why; never worn it – and this skirt below. This goes to show that Barbie’s still in the eyes of the designers and the consumers.
But, why, after all these negatives?
I think Barbie has the best intentions at heart … She reminds me of my childhood. I’ve spent some of the fondest times playing with my Barbies and she allowed me to explore my creativity and play out stories. Barbie is now 58 years old, yet has had over 150 careers! Including archaeologist, President of the United States (Make America Blonde Again!), nurse, pilot, engineer… and I think that’s an empowering message to children.
Yes, she may be synonymous with pink and ‘girl things’ (and that definitely leaves a lot of room for improvement) but if there is one thing she stands for, it’s that she can do what she wants. Barbie can have it all – a career, a family and house and a car! And, after all, she is a toy and her whole reason for existing is for entertainment, fun and joy, for children and adults alike.
You know what? She has her flaws – but maybe, that’s a relief – Barbie is NOT perfect, everybody! And that’s because perfection doesn’t exist, because it can’t. OMG how cheesy is that? Haha.
I understand both sides of the argument
It’s such an intriguing topic to explore and it will be one that is ongoing for a time to come.
The ‘boxing-in’ of girls and boys from a young age with these gendered and stereotypical toys needs to be addressed and the gap needs to be closed. The ‘perfect body image’ needs to be addressed.
But, for now, I’m enjoying a throwback to my Christmases opening up a new Barbie dollhouse, when I had all day to create stories and act them act with my Barbies (and Kens, and Legos, and Hot Wheels).
I’d love to read what you think about this?