2016 The Year of Women's Body Image

I mainly work with women, and my focus stands firmly with body styling and body image. Therefore, reflecting this past year's events, two news announcements stand out in my mind’s eye.  I am a firm believer in women support, therefore I am vigilantly against all forms of misogyny, whether the source is from men or women. We need reinforcement from the massive engines feeding products into our lives, creating overwhelming impressions in our culture.

Mattel made a huge decision this past January. Helping to support all shapes and sizes of women, the doll company launched their Fashionistas Line of Barbie dolls. The dolls range in different body types and offer seven different skin tones.

Curvy Barbie Cover Time Magazine

This is a start with normalizing women’s bodies in the eyes of our new generations. Sadly, it is going to take all of us to support this viewpoint. It must be held by the fathers and mothers of these kids, by the school systems and the government.

WGSN Emily Spiegel says,
“The shocker with the introduction of these new Barbie types was that – according to the researchers at Mattel – girls as young as 5 were participating in body-shaming while playing with the new Barbie types (undressing curvy Barbie, for instance, and laughing at her stomach).”

We have a long way to go!

Mattel stands firm stating they have been focused on female empowerment through their brand for many years. To rebuff years of criticism directed to the 18” waisted Barbie, the company states,

”Barbie was a businesswoman in 1963, an astronaut in 1965 and a surgeon in 1973 when 9% of all doctors were women. “Our brand represents female empowerment,” argues Dickson. “It’s about choices. Barbie had careers at a time when women were restricted to being just housewives. Ironically, our critics are the very people who should embrace us.”

When I was a little girl, I don’t remember ever, ever seeing a business woman, astronaut or surgeon Barbie on a store shelf. Maybe I don’t remember or maybe, just because Mattel made these dolls does not mean the stores stocked them in significant quantities. If my childhood was any indication of where my head was, Barbie in girly, pink gowns were the top of my list. The culture I grew up in and how I was wired did not lend to me being a 5 year old feminist.The thought of playing with Astronaut Barbie would never have entered my head.

The second event of 2016 taking the lime light is Plus Model Ashley Graham’s full body adorning the cover of Sports Illustrated. She was one of three women sharing the cover in 2016. This brought on a few discussions with my own daughter, focusing on body image and health. It creates conversation. It introduces normalcy of a woman’s body into our culture.

Obviously, I have bypassed all other memorable and historical events from this past year. I am grandstanding body image only. Hopeful it will not get lost in the year’s news. It is way too important to the mental and physical health of half of the population of this country. This is a good thing.

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