Barbie got back

February 2, 2016


A closet full of Barbie dolls in their sealed boxes, hair intact, shoes still strapped on and all of her accessories still included—I never played with my dolls because of the fear of ruining their perfect image.

I would go over to my cousins’ houses and see their dolls with shoes missing, hair chopped off and sometimes their plastic limbs missing.

This is something that I couldn’t erase from my brain. The perfection of Barbie was something that I felt couldn’t and shouldn’t be altered, so I made sure that my dolls were protected from any harm.

Sacrificing play time with dolls to preserve their image was something that, now as an adult, I regret, but at the time I felt like this was the most important thing to do.

On Jan. 28, Mattel unveiled a new line of Barbie dolls that are a representation of all shapes, sizes and colors.

This was something that surprised me, but had me saying it was about time.

As I reminisce on my childhood, I realize the fragility of a young girl’s mind. At seven years old, I viewed my Barbie dolls as perfect and gave up play time for the dolls’ beauty.

At the time I didn’t realize that the dolls in the boxes were seen as the ideal standards of beauty. They were thin, light skinned, had long blonde hair, blue eyes and a full face of makeup. I just saw them as what Barbie was supposed to look like.

Not until I began seeing the dolls with hair and skin like mine did I realize that there was a real difference.

Although the doll’s hair and skin color changed, the model stayed the same. The long hair, make-up and physique remained.

It wasn’t until then that I knew that this was what was considered beautiful. Along with what I saw on television, my dolls were the exact model of what was considered perfect at the time.

Around age 11, I urged my mom to let me wear make-up and when she refused, I still found myself wanting to change my look to conform to society’s idea of beauty.

I began to straighten my naturally curly hair, wear tight clothing and would sneak mascara and lip gloss to school.

I remember waking up extra early and stressing out if my hair wasn’t done. This became something that overshadowed the importance of school, and for me consumed much of what I truly cared about once I hit high school.

I feel like if I had seen images of girls and women who looked like me or like the women around me, I would feel more comfortable in my own skin.

Body image and beauty is something that many women struggle with and sadly is something that we will wrestle with for the rest of our lives.

If we as a society take advantage of reaching out to girls and boys at a young age we can use the impressionability of their minds for good instead of poisoning them with images of unrealistic “perfection.”

Making sure that they see themselves in the movies they watch, in the music they hear and the toys they play with can make a difference in their lives and a difference in society.

There will be no such thing as a standard model of perfection and what is beautiful will be in the eyes of the beholder.

I applaud Mattel for finally thinking about the future of the children rather than the aesthetic of their product.

I can’t wait to see what the future holds, and I am hopeful that with each generation a more accepting and open-minded group of individuals will take over the airwaves and run the nation.

I hope that when the time comes, my children will not have to worry about the way their hair looks or hide makeup from me or look at women and judge them based on their outer appearance.

The evolution of the Barbie brand is victory for everyone, and although many may look at it as just a doll, this is a cultural icon that just took a stand for the everyday woman.

Amanda Guillen may be reached at

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