Barbie Dolls Have Negative Psychological Effects on the Mindsets of Young Girls


Girls physical appearances are often criticized throughout her entire life, whether by peers, society or even family. Girls learn at a young age to value beauty, and according to critics Barbie can influence what “beauty” means to women.

According to author Kathryn Gentzke, looking good is emphasized in predominantly girl’s toys such as Barbie. American toy companies can have a big influence on this.

A study conducted by researchers at the University of New South Wales in 1996 proved that Barbie and her counterpart Ken’s proportions were unrealistic to basic biology.

After scaling the dolls to life size adults they measured many adult groups. The results showed that the probability of women having the Barbie body shape is less than one in 100.000 while, the probability of men having a Ken like body shape is one in 50. Physically, girls can rarely come close to Barbie’s body shape, not to mention her flawless plastic skin and perfectly smoothed hair.

Along with Barbie’s appearance damaging young girls self confidence, critics of the doll also argue she champions damaging social standards.

When Mattel released Teen Talk Barbie, programmed to say a handful of phrases, some of them were questionable. One of the most upsetting being, “Math class is tough, Want to go shopping? OK, meet me at the mall.” This doll sent the message to girls that math is too hard for them, and that they should spend their time shopping rather than learning.

After the national news covered the subject, Mattel separated the phrases, making them two separate parts, but did not get rid of them.

The controversy was even parodies in the Simpsons in an episode in which Lisa gets angry when her Malibu Stacy doll says, “Thinking too much gives you wrinkles.”

The introduction of talking dolls was not the last time Barbie reached national attention. In 2009, legislator Jeff Eldridge (D-WV) proposed a bill to ban Barbie in West Virginia.

“I introduced the legislation because the Barbie doll, I think, gives emphasis on if you’re beautiful, you don’t have to be smart,” Eldridge said. Although this bill was never passed it did stir up national attention.

These unrealistic standards can actually negatively affect health. Barbie syndrome is a real concern. This term is used to describe girls or women who desire to have the physical appearance and lifestyle of a Barbie doll. To obtain this, women will do anything from painting their house pink to getting excessive plastic surgery.

There are many infamous cases of Barbie syndrome but according to Gentzke, perhaps one of the most well known is Cindy Jackson.

To look like a real life Barbie doll, Jackson had had eye lifts, nose jobs, cheek implants, lip enhancement, cosmetic dentistry, a chin reduction, a reshaped jaw, face lifts, breast implants, removal of implants, dermabrasion, chemical peels, fat transfers, liposuction, filler injections, laser treatments and many more procedures.

The dolls are also in part responsible for the extremely high rate of anorexia and bulimia in American teenagers. Women have striven to make countless advancements in equality, and the message of this doll disgraces all of their hard work. In an age where Harriet Tubman will soon be featured on the twenty-dollar bill, and singers like Megan Trainer preach body acceptance there is no room for the density that is Barbie dolls.