Say the word “Barbie” and you instantly think of a thin doll, straight long blonde hair, long slender legs and pink-tinted clothing. Small detail, if Barbie was a real woman she could not possibly function normally. Her waist does not provide enough space for her organs, she would not even be able to walk. Yet this is the ideal of beauty that girls witness from birth, which has negative effects for their personal embodying of the outer appearance, known as the body image.
The image that women have about their bodies is strongly influenced by social media. Which imposes on us an ideal image of the woman. Women compare their bodies with that of slender models on social media. But those images (whether or not altered by photo shop) are not a correct representation of the average woman. The current, prevailing ideal for a women’s body consists of a slim body yet curvaceous with large breasts, shiny and healthy hair, straight white teeth and a natural glow of the skin. The same image of women is reflected in gender stereotypes in advertising. In which the woman is depicted as a lust object for man. But many women do not recognize themselves in this image, which has negative effects.
You can divide the female population that is exposed to this ideal image into two groups. First, there is the group that creates a certain distance between themselves and the prevailing ideals of appearance and thinness. And second,women who have interpreted these ideals as a personal belief system and see them as their goal. Low self-esteem and depression are therefore not excluded if this goal is not achieved.
It is time that the image of the woman is represented realistically. Mattel, the creator of the Barbie doll is already making an effort. In 2016 Barbie was joined by Tall Barbie, Curvy Barbie and Petite Barbie. The dolls represent a realistic image of the woman in society. Yet Curvy Barbie is slimmer than the average woman. And a normal life for Tall and Petite Barbie is not included when scaled up to real size. However, the dolls are a good start towards a realistic representation of women in social media and advertising. And were therefore well received by the general public. But there is still a long way to go.