Opinion: Bring Back Yass Barbie

This is an open letter to Mattel to let them know the new generation can learn to be a strong woman while looking amazing at the same time.


Sienna Johnson

Picture of modern made to move Barbie via Mattels store website

by Sienna Johnson, Reporter

Barbie, the woman of every career. A relic of her time in each adaptation. Who went to the moon four years before any man could while having a full face of makeup. Barbie was put into this world as an icon for every child she has been purchased for since 1959. She always had a curvaceous body, bright makeup and lipstick to match, and a celebrity-style hairstyle. 

In the days of yore, Barbie was practically showered in glitter and pink while achieving her extensive career list of over 200. I remember being a kid and my Barbies had hot pink sequined dresses and even a pink belt on the zoo keeper costume. But something changed in 2014, something awful.

For years, Barbie was subject to criticism for being a “bad role model” for young girls (a sentiment that is never said to the big muscular superhero toys for boys) but around 2014 everything came to a halt. People have claimed Barbie as creating eating disorders and encouraging being dumb, which was a criticism of the 1992 “Teen Talk” Barbie who was a talking doll that said many phrases. Among these phrases was “Math class is hard.”

People who did not have functional thinking skills took this as a Barbie telling young children that being good at math is not something that anyone should aspire to. But if you have the ability to reason, you will realize that this is just Barbie saying she has trouble in math class, and as a person who is bad at math, why should it be taken as a bad thing? 

Just by simply googling the words “Barbie” and “Body Image” together, you would find hundreds of articles published about how Barbie creates a bad body image in young girls, but I see this as a scapegoat to defer the blame from parents and society. 

If you are a parent it is your responsibility to instill confidence in your children and blaming the body proportions of a doll is skirting that responsibility. If anything is going to tell a child they need to be skinny to be beautiful, it will more likely be their own family, bullying from other children, or an underlying mental health issue that causes self-hatred like depression or anxiety. 

The effort from the years 2014-2016 to try and expose Barbie as being feminism’s biggest problem was more of a non-issue that distracted from the bigger issues at hand in women’s rights, like being able to have paid maternity leave, ideas valued the same as men’s in the workplace and having their own bodily autonomy that is not decided upon by a lawmaker who doesn’t even understand female anatomy. 

These years in toy making were bad for Barbie, and the idea that Barbie was bad for feminism was shown by the horrible abomination of “Lammily,” the doll that was meant to be made after a real girl’s measurements. You know you have a doll that kids will love if one of the main selling points is that she “wears minimal makeup,” come on now. 

My biggest point here is my own experience as a little kid playing with dolls. Personally, I never felt like I had to look like Barbie. She was already me. I played through her. Her body type never made me feel bad about myself because I wasn’t supposed to be her, she was me and it didn’t matter to me her shoe height or if she was “just a regular girl,” she was meant to be larger than life to me. 

The dolls they have now don’t scream “kids¨ to me. Like with the Lammily dolls and others that were meant to be realistic, her new looks feels more like Barbie is meant for parents to buy to feel good about their parenting skills and not for the imagination of the child receiving it. 

I think it does the opposite of what the intention was, making Barbie seem like your everyday woman who wears flat shoes and little to no pink at all. They took away those things in an effort to correct the gender roles she had been thought to embody and made it seem like it is a bad thing to be a girl who likes feminine things.

You can be bad at math and smart in other areas. You can be president in high heels. You can be a CEO and then go out with Ken in a pink sparkly gown the same night. Bring back yass Barbie for yass kids everywhere.