Throughout my entire childhood, I was consumed in the fantastic, ideal, and exciting world of Barbie. I played with Barbie dolls, owned her lego sets, glued my eyes to her movies almost every car ride, and avidly watched and re-watched her Netflix TV show. You could say my 9-year-old self was a dedicated and passionate connoisseur of all things Barbie-related, and quite frankly I can still be caught watching her movies from time to time. I recall changing my doll’s high-heeled shoes and walking her all around the floor of my bedroom, dreaming of living a life where I could simultaneously get to be an astronaut, park ranger, rock star, and scuba diver.
I never realized when I was younger, but by idealizing Barbie because of her spectacular life and careers I was also unintentionally putting her physique on a pedestal as well, as I assume most children who eagerly consumed the Barbie franchise were. This unconscious association between success and happiness with Barbie’s physical appearance, in retrospect, is extremely unhealthy for young girls to be constantly taking in. For me, she was a double-edged sword. Barbie showed me women can be in STEM and be independent, but she was also my first exposure to unrealistic body standards that still sit quietly and persistently in the corner of my brain. However, having such a strong (although fictional) role model in science can potentially be viewed as the first domino that fell in a chain ultimately leading me to study Applied Math and Physics in college at 14 years old.
So was consuming this franchise ultimately worth it? I do not have an answer for you, and likely never will. But I will probably be watching Barbie: Princess Charm School(2011) tonight.