For almost 70 years, girls have grown up playing with Barbie, the German porn doll turned wholesome plastic role model. People have been speculating for years that this ill-proportioned plaything might contribute to a negative body image in little girls, to the degree that that some women even go under the knife to get her waist. A recent study seemingly confirms this theory, demonstrating that girls as young as six (6!) become self-conscious about their bodies thanks to the toy.
The journal Body Image recently published a study titled "The impact of doll style of dress and familiarity on body dissatisfaction in 6- to 8-year-old girls."
The researchers found:
Body shape of dolls influenced young girls’ ratings of body dissatisfaction.
- Girls who played with thin dolls desired thinner body shapes after playtime.
Playing with full-figured dolls suppressed girls’ desire for thin body shapes.
In the study, Dr. Kathleen Keller, a nutrition and food scientist at Penn State, wrote, "In each experimental group, girls desired a body shape that corresponded to the doll with which they played, suggesting that playtime may create a context in which the dolls represent a culturally accepted body shape."
A new line of Barbies without thigh gaps was announced by Mattel in January, and just might help teach children what a human woman's body is actually like.
"Playing with full-figure dolls that more accurately depict the size of an average woman, which is a size 14, may allow children to be more comfortable with their bodies, resulting in a healthy relationship between actual and ideal body size," Dr. Keller and her team concluded.
There might be hope for the youths after all! Now we just need movies and the media to catch up to the dolls.