Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Guest post: Alternatives to Barbie

Today's guest post comes courtesy of Lisa Shoreland, currently a resident blogger at Go College, where recently she's been researching scholarship lotteries as well as state student loans. In her spare time, she enjoys creative writing, practicing martial arts, and taking weekend trips. If you're interested in writing a guest post for Spare Candy or cross-posting something, check out the guidelines or send an e-mail to rosiered23 (at) sparecandy (dot) com.

The unrealistic – some would say unattainable – proportions of Barbie have long been decried as damaging to the self-image of young girls. If Barbie is presented as the model of what a desirable woman should look like, these young girls are left to feel like they will never measure up – never be thin enough, never have a small enough waist, never have big enough breasts. And never be as put together and polished as the iconic doll.

Luckily, there are some options for parents hoping to provide young girls with more realistic models. Unfortunately, the doll world hasn’t quite caught up with the real world, and even the alternative models are limited. The price tag is also much higher and the dolls harder to find.

Tonner Dolls
This fashion doll company produces a variety of 16” vinyl fashion dolls. Some are presented as fashion models, and others are reproductions of celebrities and famous characters. The company also produces a number of “bigger” dolls. They are thicker around the waist and have plumper faces.

The Emme doll is based on the plus-sized fashion model Emme. The doll and the woman show young girls that even curvy women can become models and be seen as a standard of beauty:

The company also produces a line of dolls inspired by the movie “Dreamgirls.” Effie, played in the movie by Jennifer Hudson (who has since slimmed down considerably), struggles with her weight and her image as a bigger woman. There are several dolls available based on her character.

Big Beautiful Dolls
At 11.5” tall, these dolls are the rebuttal to Barbie. They are more than just full-figured (as Barbie’s Rosie O’Donnell was meant to be), they are curvy and feature rolls around their midsection, arms and thighs. Unfortunately, the company is no longer in business. But you can still find their three characters, all different races, on the secondary market, such as eBay.

Sew Able Dolls
These adorable 18” dolls reflect a multitude of special needs. Dolls come with wheelchairs or crutches, prosthetic limbs, or wigs for chemotherapy. There are also sets for physical therapy. You can see these dolls at http://www.sew-dolling.com/dollys_friends.htm.

While it’s true that Barbie reigns for now, parents can take comfort in knowing that there are dolls available that celebrate differences and showcase other forms of beauty. As a consumer, the biggest influence you can make is in what you buy. Perhaps if more parents buy these “alternative” dolls and fewer buy into Barbie, we can begin to demand a more realistic representation of women in the media and in our toys.

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