October 27 Pearson Blog: BARBIE RISING

By Carol S. Pearson.


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Ruth Handler, who created the Barbie doll, explained, “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices. But since 2011, Barbie has become less and less popular, partly because of her unrealistic body shape and partly because the stories Mattel has told about her have not kept up with what moms want for their daughters. Unfortunately, Mattel’s Barbie has often been abducted by stereotypical and trivializing attitudes toward girls and their interests.

Today, however, Mattel aims to rise so it can trigger the imaginative potential little girls are capable of. Likewise, Barbie may be rising out of the ashes with this new ad.

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Now it is time for Mattel to do something so that girls are not negatively comparing their healthy bodies to an unrealistic standard. That being said, however, Barbie’s shape is reminiscent of the Egyptian deity Nut, who was the goddess of the night sky, giving birth to Ra, the sun god, every morning—maybe not that unrelated to a little girl’s imaginings. Above is an image of Nut with an elongated body similar to Barbie’s. Her pose is protective of the gods and people below from her stance in the sky. How wonderful if Barbie could become a container for the myriad dreams and visions of young girls!

I’d love to hear what you think about these shifts in female dolls and related archetypal images. Comment below and become part of our Twitter conversation by visiting us @carolspearson with #IAmPersephone, and, if you feel so inspired, let @Mattel know what you think as well. You might just help bring about an even more empowering change for the doll and future girls.