Researchers have revealed that playing with Barbie dolls can be detrimental to girls’ health, saying that even playing with the toys once can make impressionable youngsters feel that they must be thin.
According to the research, which has been published in the respected Body Image journal, playing with Barbies made young girls believe that being skinny was a must. The study involved talking to 160 girls from Australia, who were aged between five and eight.
The research team found that young girls only had to play with Barbies, or look at pictures of the dolls, to have feelings that they needed to be thin. Following the research findings, Marika Tiggermarin, who is a body image expert, has urged mums and dads not to give their daughters Barbies to play with. She said that parents should not give their girls Barbies and, if they already had the dolls, they should be encouraged to do more with them rather than simply dressing them up and making them look attractive.
Being thin is good
She said that being exposed to Barbie resulted in young girls thinking that looking pretty was important, and that being fat was bad, therefore being thin was good, and being even thinner was better.
However, Mattel, which makes Barbies has rubbished the findings of the study, saying that it did not properly represent real life play experiences. The toy maker has also recently issued a number of different Barbies with varying body shapes, including a curvier Barbie doll. Professor Tiggerman has responded by saying that the release of the curvier Barbie is a good start, but that Mattel can do more to properly represent realistic real life bodies. Researchers have earlier claimed that playing with thin dolls, such as Barbie, could make young girls more likely to develop eating disorders later in life.