Mattel's Barbie now has a pair of flats in her shoe closet, thanks to new movable ankles. Unfortunately, Barbie has collected some other things over the decades, including chronic back pain, shortened calf muscles, ankle injuries, bunions, and damaged knees thanks to her heels, as shown in this Washington Post infographic.
Barbie's shoes should matter to us as much as they do to young girls
The parody news site Clickhole mocked the impact Barbie has on self-image:
This 43-Year-Old Man Won’t Let Himself Be Defined By Barbie’s Beauty Standards http://t.co/ox62nw2wkY #ClickClassic pic.twitter.com/gQ2qUJrtVg— ClickHole (@ClickHole) June 5, 2015
Clickhole's parody, by featuring an adult male playing with a girl's doll, is more a parody of our expectations of gender norms for men than of self-esteem for the primary market for the dolls (women). If Clickhole's character were a woman, the joke would have hit much closer to home. Two separate studies by the NIH and the University of Essex in 2006 found that girls' body image is changed by which dolls they play with. Add this to the long list of research that shows women as adults tend to show less self-confidence than men.
Barbie's latest wardrobe change might actually encourage a few young girls to put their own health and self-interest before sexist, unhealthy social expectations, a statement we fully endorse.