Barbie’s New Commercial Is Inspiring – But Is It Enough?

by Dawn Day

Normally, praising Barbie is not a thing I do. With a severely disproportioned body design, too much makeup and an impractical number of high heels, Mattel’s leading lady is usually shamed for teaching unrealistic body ideals to young girls. But Barbie’s new YouTube commercial is asking us to “Imagine The Possibilities” that can come from girls playing with the (in)famous dolls. 

Following five young girls as they take on the roles of a veterinarian, a college professor, a men’s soccer coach, a tour guide, and a traveling business executive, the ad shows off the reactions of those they interact with from hidden cameras. 

“My cat can fly.” 

“The dog’s brain can’t think as much as the human’s brain, because there is no high school for the dog.” 

“The T-Rex, Sally, is one-thousand 2 million, 252 years old.”

“Knees up like a unicorn! Higher, higher!”

“I’ve been to New York, Transylvania, Pennsylvania…” 

Seriously Mattel, is your PR team trying to kill us with cuteness? (I’m sure you are because… Lammily.)

The message behind the ad is great, encouraging imaginations to run wild and preaching, “When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become.” Sure girls will be imagining themselves as college professors, but I can’t help but think that they are also imagining herself as a stick-thin, big-breasted professor with a face full of makeup. 

Yes, the commercial is inspiring, but is a commercial enough to give girls the self-efficacy needed to believe that they are capable of anything? In my opinion, probably not. Actually adjusting Barbie to look more like a normal woman probably could make a positive impact–the ad is just cute because of the girls’ precocious attitudes. 

What do you think of the new ad? A cute concept with a great message, or a new frame for looking at a doll that tears down body confidence from a young age? 

Photos via Flickr/Dolly Mish Mash and YouTube/Barbie.

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