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It's beginning to look a Lot like Anorexia!
How I learned to stop worrying and love my unique body type!
Did you know there's an actual model who claims to be the "real-life" Barbie doll? Why, yes, it is every bit as horrifying as you might be imagining. Based on some rudimentary research I've done, a true "real-life" Barbie doll would stand at 6 foot (182.88 cm) tall, weigh about 100 lbs.(45 kg and 360 g) have a 35-19-30 BMH ratio. If you're having trouble visualizing that, it's because this body type is decidedly unnatural – anyone having these numbers would walk on all fours in order to support that size chest atop Barbie's size 3 feet. So, why do we subject our little girls to this kind of wash? It's been proven over and over again that it has a litany of self-esteem and body-image issues just waiting to happen and no documented positive attributes. That's what I'm here to discuss, just in time to ruin your Christmas shopping!
And, before we begin, yes, boy toys also have unrealistic body types too. I acknowledge this. I'll be more concerned when an outbreak of male-case anorexia explodes due to their inability to dress as one of The Avengers reaches record highs.
Barbie's case speaks for itself and I think we made the case against Disney princesses pretty clear last month. So, let's venture through the world of online shopping and see what other girl toys are an option.
- The "Our Generation" line of dolls emphasizes old school dollhouse play. Reviews about quality are consistent across the board too. However, the pudgy heads and the eerie, oversized eyeballs are unnerving, almost like someone with an adult body and a literal baby-face. Maybe it's just me, but it still smacks of modern beauty standards and an over-emphasis on youthful appearances. I say pass on it, but the choice really is yours.
- "Lalaloopsy" toys seem aimed at a much lower age demographic. The simple and cartoony design make me want to give it a clean bill of health due to abstraction, but the fact that they have spaghetti noodle limbs is still worth noticing and taking into account. I have to say "no go".
- "Monster High" seems a fairly recent merchandising trend to me, the idea being teen girl versions of classic movie monsters attending high school. Represented monsters include a Frankenstein monster, a werewolf (who closer resembles a cat but I digress), a vegan vampire, a mummy, a gorgon, a ghost, a zombie and the creature from the black lagoon. It's a really neat idea and I'm sure many screenwriters are slapping their foreheads with their hands, wondering aloud why they didn't think of it first. The problem still remains, though, that their perfect, porcelain-meets-photoshop skin, tiny, emaciated frames (while thematically appropriate for some monsters) still are going to give a bad impression. No good, those ghouls.
- "The Winx Club" toy line was a surprise to see on store shelves. The show ran on TV back when I was still in high school so I was surprised to see the toy line lives on. The problems with these fairy-like gals are legion. They're absolutely tiny, far beyond even corpse-like and right into the land of make-believe. Absolutely not.
- "Polly Pocket" showing up in these search results was an even bigger shock still – I saw the first ads for those back when I was still in elementary school. The bright, flashy colors and hyper-stylized figurines are not particularly offensive. While not particularly "realistic" either, the forms aren't grotesque and don't strike me as liable to provoke body issues. Polly's fine by me.
- "My Little Pony" as a franchise is older than I am. The newest generation of the toys (Friendship is Magic) are all primary and secondary colored horses, largely popularized by the most-recent TV series. I cede there's pretty much no difference between the equines apart from color, but to a little girl, there's no way to mix them up. The ponies are still fit to stand in your little girl's collection, just as they were likely in yours as well.
- "Novi Stars" are terrifying. I get that they're supposed to be alien beings but that's what they look like to me - alien. They're what happens when the horrors of H. P. Lovecraft and the troll dolls of the late 80s have children together. Nothing about these space-born monstrosities isn't offensive to the senses. No way.
- "Bratz" and the recent spinoff "Bratzillaz". What can I even say? It's like setting a jumbo marshmallow atop a wicker man made of toothpicks. The monstrous noggin set astride a body that could be taken to the ground by the wind made from a hummingbird's wings is nothing shy of mortifying. Really, do you want your little girl to emulate characters who take pride in being poorly behaved, bossy and mean? Also, no one told them that "Zilla" derives from the Japanese word "Jira" which means "Whale". Not a chance.
In case it wasn't obvious enough by now, the options are quite limited. Most of the best toys marketed for small girls are the non-human ones (with a few exceptions). I can't very well prattle off every toy on the market but the guidelines found in the above should help give you a starting point for appropriate toys for little girls of all ages. The sort of toys beloved for ages should not be the ones that symbolically or by way of subtext make your little girl feel like less of a person. That horrible cycle can end this year if we put our minds to it.
As an added bonus, here are some good gift ideas to consider:
- Movies by Studio Ghibli. Body types of all sorts show up in all these movies and their fit for all viewers. My personal recommendation is "Castle in the Sky", which all ages are sure to love.
- Lots and lots of books. Be it actual hard copies or digital copies, it's never too soon to introduce your child to the joys of reading. Teach them to be open-minded and discern quality literature from the pop culture garbage.
- Electronics. With the advent of the digital and on-line cultures, why not introduce them to the rapidly-growing field of computers and programming?
Well, that's enough from me. I'm sure with these tips and your own discerning judgment, you'll make it the best and most accepting Christmas yet. Merry Christmas to you all and a Happy New Year!
Written by: Jeff M.
"Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fire-side and his quiet home!"
"I heard the bells on Christmas Day