The Barbie x Skinnydip Collection is everything you would expect it to be. With the classic fuchsia pink and a sprinkle of sparkle, the collection features accessories including phone cases, tote bags and eye masks, as well as t-shirts, jumpers and jackets. Many of the items are currently sold out online, demonstrating its high demand. Some of the pieces include empowering slogans such as “dolled up for myself”, but this appears hyperbolic considering the harmful beauty standards Barbie dolls have set.
The popularity of the collection is representative of the continued relevance of Barbie which has been embroiled in its fair share of controversy. Many of us likely had our very own Barbie doll, or at least had a friend who had one. What harm could it really do, it’s just a doll, right? When looking at the current unobtainable beauty standards which infiltrate social media and as a by-product, our sub-conscious mind, there are many parallels that can be drawn from the infamous doll. The large breasts, hourglass figure and disproportionate waist to hip ratio is literally impossible to achieve.
Studies have demonstrated that children that played with Barbie dolls reported a greater desire to be thinner
Influencers and celebrities are lining up for Brazilian Butt lifts and liposuction in pursuit of their perception of perfection. Where does this come from? Of course, Barbie isn’t the sole cause of this, but it’s hard to imagine that it had absolutely no bearing on beauty standards in young minds. Studies have demonstrated that children that played with Barbie dolls reported a greater desire to be thinner and had a more negative body image, which is demonstrative of the longstanding impact of unrealistic standards of beauty thrust into children’s hands in the form of a doll.
If Barbie continues to be a dominating brand, many young people may continue in pursuit of unobtainable beauty standards
The collateral impact of this and the continued lack of representation of different body types online and in the media means other body types are no longer normalised. If Barbie continues to be a dominating brand, many young people may continue in pursuit of unobtainable beauty standards.
However, there seems to have been a recent shift, particularly with fashion brands who are recognising these issues and are embracing a variety of different body types in their advertising. As a result, they have stopped airbrushing images and are promoting body confidence for people of all sizes. This is an incredibly positive step as people are seeing models and influencers with similar body types to them and are therefore feeling represented in online spaces.
The collection itself does offer nostalgic value to those that played with Barbie dolls as children. And yet, the implications of keeping the brand relevant could be considered problematic.
All images courtesy of Instagram
Last modified: 19th October 2020