What comes to mind when you hear the word “Barbie?” Does it make you cringe? Feel nostalgic? Could you care less?

I grew up playing with Barbie dolls. And not just the lovely lady in hot pink heels. Oh no, my friends. Ken joined in on the fun along with my dope Barbie motor home. Throw in a couple Star Wars action figures and it was a plastic fiesta.

So, when I had a daughter and the whole “Are you going to let your daughter play with Barbie?” question came up several times, it made me think. Was I negatively impacted by my time spent in Barbieville? Maybe? I really have no idea. Do I complain about my body like most women? Yep. Was it because I played with Barbie when I was 8? Probably not. I do know it was a blast dressing her up, making my own outfits from scraps of material, and spending an afternoon engrossed in my imagination on a rainy Seattle day. Peer pressure aside, I took my experience into consideration and ultimately let my daughter play with Barbie.

Barbie’s 55 year life has been filled with controversy and Mattel has continuously attempted to keep up with the world to ensure Barbie stays relevant.

However, Mattel’s newest campaign “#Unapologetic” is even a bit shocking for Barbie. Barbie will be appearing in the February 18th Sports Illustrated 50th Swimsuit issue. Yes, you heard me right. This children’s toy will be showcased in a magazine issue coveted by men and teenage boys. All because she is apparently a legend amongst real life swimsuit legends. Ew.

Why “#Unapologetic?” Mattel’s Spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni says

Because Barbie is an icon, she often times gets dragged into the cultural conversation. Barbie is often asked to apologize for what she looks like, but she is who she is.

Apparently this campaign is supposed to encourage kids to not be apologetic for who they are or what they look like. And Barbie is to be featured in Sports Illustrated because…why again?

Responsible marketing? Not in my opinion. The #Unapologetic campaign coupled with Sports Illustrated is a bit shocking. But I guess that’s what you do when sales are slipping, times have changed, and perhaps the time finely has come to say goodbye to the blonde bombshell. You call a Hail Mary and go for it.

So what’s the conclusion? You either love or hate Barbie. You either love or hate the #Unapologetic campaign. Are her body proportions pretty ‘effed up? Of course. But, let me play the devil’s advocate here. The thing is, your kids are going to see images EVERYWHERE of body image distortions with the magic of Photoshop.  This includes billboards, movies, TV and magazines, Bratz dolls, Monster High dolls, and even the sweet Disney princesses with their abnormally huge eyes. So amongst this clutter of unrealistic body images, it’s our job as parents to constantly pound into our kid’s head what is normal. By avoiding Barbie – will it really make that huge of a life altering impact in your child’s life?

I personally think the way you speak around your child is more impactful then a thousand Barbie dolls. The “Do I look fat in this dress?” and “I need to lose some weight?” statements – those are what your child is really paying attention to.

What do you think? Is this latest #Unapologetic campaign too much? Is it time to bid Barbie a fond adieu?

 

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