Researchers Against Letting Children Play With Barbies
New research has found that playing with Barbie dolls even just once can make young girls think they need to be thin. The study can be detrimental to a child's health, and those as young as 5-years old might get the impression that having a skinny body is ideal.
The study was published in the journal Body Image, where 160 Australian girls aged five to eight were interviewed by researchers. The study concluded that girls only had to play with dolls or look at an image of the dolls (Barbie) to think that they needed to be thin.
According to Daily Mail, Marika Tiggemann, international body image expert advised that parents should not give their daughters Barbie dolls, especially when they are young. If they already had Barbies, parents should encourage them to do more than just dressing them up and making the Barbies look pretty.
This may lead to children believing that appearance or being thin was very important. She explained that "exposure to Barbie promoted internalisation of the thin ideal in this sample of girls."
Being thin is good but being exposed to Barbie gave young girls the impression that looking pretty was more important. Being fat was bad. Not only being thin was good but being thinner was better.
In response to the new research, the toy company Mattel, which manufactures the Barbie toys, said the study failed to accurately represent realistic play experiences. The toy maker has recently released a number of Barbies with different body shapes, including a curvy Barbie.
Tiggeman said the curvy Barbie was a good start for Mattel but more could be done to properly represent realistic real life bodies. Researchers have also claimed that playing with thin dolls could make young girls be more likely to develop eating disorders as they grow up, according to The Recorder.