Playing with the iconic Barbie dolls even once can instil the need to be thin, in young girls? Scary, isn't it? Read on.
According to this report, a new research claims that playing even once with Barbie dolls can make little girls feel the need to be thin. As per the study based on an interview with 160 Australian girls aged five to eight.
The dolls made girls as young as five feel that a skinny body is the ideal one to have. It made the girls believe that appearance, especially appearing thin is important.
My daughter is 8-years-old and she owns four Barbie dolls. None of the four were bought by me or my husband. All were gifts, either from her grandparents or our friends. It wasn’t a conscious decision to not get a Barbie for her.
Although, given a chance, I’d always buy gender-neutral toys. There wasn’t too much science behind that. I just felt that the day she tells me she wants something specific, be it a pink doll or a blue truck, I’d get that for her. Till then, let her build her world around building blocks, puppies and paper boats.
Amazingly enough, neither of us had to wait for the first Barbie to arrive as on her 4th birthday her grandparents gifted her one. Now, having read this report, I wonder if it was a bad idea. But then, it was a gift and not much can be done about it especially if the kid receives it personally.
However, if the report is true, it is quite disturbing. It’s not as if other external influences weren’t enough for children to develop a negative or unrealistic body image.
Body image is how we feel about our bodies. Considering that negative body image exists in most adults, it’s no wonder that young children too, seem to get influenced by either adults, peers or influences like television, movies and now, toys.
So how do you ensure that you are raising a child with the gift of a positive body image and a sense of comfort in his/her own body? Here are some tips:
- Put less emphasis on how one looks. Focus more on what they are capable of. Even if you ensure that you praise your child’s abilities, one careless remark about a stranger’s appearance could be enough for him to feel that looks do matter, after all.
- Be confident and happy yourself. If you grumble about your double chin or wonder aloud about losing weight, your child is bound to assume it is mighty important. Accept your body and maintain a healthy lifestyle. The emphasis should be on overall health, not specific body parts or weight.
- Share your thoughts on body shaming. Cultivate the habit of expressing your dislike when you encounter critical messages and images splattered across in the media. Voice your opinion on how body shaming is just downright immature.
- Look out for bullies. If you feel your child has suddenly clammed up or is insisting for a certain type of outfit/look/accessory, instead of indulging him, talk. Try to figure out if he is being bullied by his peers or if he is feeling peer pressure to follow a certain trend. Explain that these things are immaterial as what matters in the real world are attributes that aren’t even tangible.
- Encourage physical fitness to stay FIT… and not to attain a certain body type. All children may not be athletes, or may not love dancing. Figure out what works for your child and let him participate in it. Explain to him the benefits of physical fitness and a healthy mind and body.
At the end of the day, all that I tell my daughter is what matters the most is how kind, clever and funny she is. On a stray day that I find her preening in front of the mirror, I add just for indulgence sake, that she is gorgeous. Perhaps you should try it too.
Be sure to check out ParentTown for more insightful stories, questions, and answers from parents and experts alike. If you have any insights, questions or comments regarding the topic, please share them in our Comment box below. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Google+ to stay up-to-date on the latest from sg.theAsianparent.com!