New Barbie vs. Old Barbie: An Observation

By: Rosa and Sophia

Girls who grow up surrounded by the “Barbie Body” image (known as the perfect body) are heavily influenced by barbie dolls. If the traditional Barbie doll was a real woman, she would be 5’9” and weigh 120 pounds. Her measurements would be nearly impossible for regular women without any plastic surgery to achieve. Barbie’s measurements would be 38-18-34 while the average woman’s measurements are about 41-34-43. A woman named Cindy Jackson was so heavily influenced by Barbie that she underwent 20 plastic surgeries with a total cost of $55,000 to make herself look just like Barbie.This proves that starting at a young age, children are influenced by the toys they play with.  

An average American girl between the ages of three to 11 owns about ten Barbie dolls. We did some research and found one study showinh that girls who played with Barbie are reported with a much lower body image and a greater desire to be thinner than the girls who played with a curvier doll or no doll at all. Since 1959, when Barbie was created, they gave children the idea that it is desirable to be thin, white, and blonde with a very tiny waist. This encourages children to strive for an unrealistic body image.

As children grow up, we would want that so-called “perfect body” doing all kinds or stuff to themselves just to get the desired look. Many teen girls grow up having eating disorders such as anorexia, bulimia and etc. Some girls will undergo thousands of dollars or plastic surgeries and waist trainers. It comes from all of the pressure society puts on us to be something or someone that isn’t even real! But this year, something changed for the better.

Mattel released new Barbie dolls coming in different shapes and sizes. The new Mattel lineup of Barbies is called Barbie Fashionistas line, and it includes dolls of seven different skin tones, 22 different eye colours, and 14 different facial variations. This tackles body image diversity and it will hopefully influence girls in a positive way as oppose to the old barbie doll. A range of choices can be empowering for children, they will be able to play with dolls that look more realistic, so they are not given ideas of an ideal body image. The dolls retail for around $10 per doll, so they are widely accessible and appealing.

In a youtube video created by BuzzFeed, kids review the new Barbie dolls and it shows how much they can impact youth. For example, and African-American girl noticed that one doll had the same hair as her and it seemed to make her really happy because she can now play with a doll that resembles her. Here is a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1lswHN6zrg.

Overall, the new Barbie dolls might erase the ideal body image that it had been advertising for 57 years and change how youth see themselves. The Barbie Fashionistas dolls may expand children’s views of acceptable body image. Barbie’s diverse makeover is a step forward into changing the toy industry to influence children positively. 

Preview YouTube video Kids Review The New Barbie BodiesKids Review The New Barbie Bodies

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Our YMCA Pine Crest Trip in 10 Photos

During March Break, we went on an overnight trip in Muskoka with YWCA Muskoka, our video pals for the last year and a half. Here are 10 photos that summarize the beautiful experience that none of us will ever forget:

An Interview With Wendy Le About Safety On The TTC

 

Wendy Le is a mentor in the Village Bloggurls program and she has been involved since its humble beginnings in 2012. From there she has grown into a community leader and example of self-determination. Recently, she has taken on the task of addressing girls and women’s safety on the TTC by focusing on the impact and effectiveness of the TTC Request Stop Program. I spoke with her a few weeks ago about the context surrounding her project:

The experience of taking the bus

Like almost everyone in the city, Wendy started taking the bus at a young age. “That commute went from one bus to school and one bus home from Gr 6 to 12,” she tells me over the phone. But when she got to university, the amount of transfers she had to make and the number of buses she had to take increased, a lot:

“When I had to travel to a different part of the city, I’ve been taking the bus for 1.5 hours, I’d be staying on buses for 30 minutes each transfer. Because you’re on the bus for that long you encounter a lot of problems that do happen on the TTC.”

With a longer commute comes complaints: “A lot of people have a lot of complaints about people on the bus and how TTC drivers treat people. You ask them about the route and they give us attitude.”

The inspiration behind this project

Wendy recounted the story of her sister’s age being called into question by a bus driver…even though her sister showed ID. The bus driver told Wendy’s sister that she couldn’t possibly be 12 because she’s tall. How does height determine a child’s age? Wendy doesn’t know. But she does know this:

“The way our bodies grow should not determine what age we should look like.”

The impact this incident had on her sister was quite emotional:

“It was devastating to hear my sister come home disappointed. She’s usually the fire of the family. She got affected so it was so saddening for her. I want to tell her she’s not alone. She’s 12. How are you a bus driver putting down a 12 year old?”

What’s next?

With her mentoring group, Wendy is including this story and more in the upcoming Village Bloggurls zine (which has yet to be titled). The theme is “world-building” and Wendy’s group has a lot of ideas, hopes and plans for the future (maybe the TTC can take a look at it when it’s done).

Wendy along with Amy are conducting a survey to gather information about people’s experiences with the TTC Request Stop Program. Please fill it out and send it along to your networks and circles.

There is a social media campaign in place as well as a tentative meeting date planned to invite Toronto councillors and TTC board members to hear these stories.


 

I can say with the utmost confidence that this is incredible advocacy work that is needed and necessary to creating changes. I’m proud of all of the work that Wendy and the rest of the Village Bloggurls are doing.

Stay tuned to the blog for more updates!

VBG & NiaZamar: Self-Care + Community Care

By: Winnie

On March 4th, Tanya, an entrepreneur (hair stylist, make-up artist, business owner Of NiaZamar etc.) and facilitator, visited us for a second time and led a workshop on the importance of self care. The importance and power of sharing and shaping your own story was a relatable concept because everyone at VBG has shared their own story through the digital stories.

Although I was a bit nervous and skeptical at first at sharing and creating my own story, in retrospect, I’m glad I made it as the story marks a point in my life that I can look back on. Shaping my own story was important to me as it captured my own point of view that nobody else had. I also found that a lot of people related to what I felt and shared in that particular story. It helped others in dealing with the same type of problem.

Self-care, including caring for ourselves mentally resonated with me a lot. Most of the mentors are heading off into universities and the mentees are moving on up into middle school or high school, and so there is a lot of stress around this time of the year.

For me, I’m going on into university and I know that I want to go into the sciences, but I’m not sure which career path yet. It just seems as though everybody makes university a very big deal and I’m just a bit stressed and scared over making the wrong choice.

One of the activities she asked us to do was to list the things we like to do to relax. It reminded me what I needed to do to take a step back away from the stress and why I need to care for myself in the first place. One of the quotes she showed us especially stuck with me which was, “You are worth more than your productivity.”  I think a lot of the time, we are taught to work hard all the time, and this idea constantly tells us we don’t have time or deserve to take a break from work.

I think it is especially important that we have this conversation among not only young girls, but young girls of colour as we are constantly told as girls that our voices and spaces we take up don’t matter. Tanya talked about trusting our own intuition and the power we as girls hold. We are also constantly reminded that we should not love ourselves because the media constantly perpetuates these unachievable beauty standards. Not only are these beauty standards harmful, they are also euro-centric, which push girls of colours further away from what is seen as “beautiful.”

This workshop was empowering. Tanya spoke of the importance of redefining beauty and taking up our own space. Not only should we care for ourselves, but we need what Tanya called “community care” to uplift and empower other girls.

“Community care” was a new term I learned, but it seemed familiar. It reminded me of Mentorgurls as it is a safe space to uplift and empower girls using our discussions in program, the art we make and the blogging that we do. Each session, we make sure to find out how each other is doing and we provide a space to confide in each other.

One activity that I thought was very fun was using makeup to create our own superhero. Although makeup is criticized within society, Tanya helped reinforce the idea that makeup is a tool for empowerment. For me, I love wearing makeup as it is a way to de-stress but it also empowers me because it is about making myself look a way that I am proud of. It is about making my own choices to look the way I want to look. Because of unrealistic beauty standards portrayed by the media and how it affects girls of colour specifically, I think it is important to take back that power and create use it in a way to empower ourselves.

Overall, I thought this workshop that Tanya led was great. It showed me the importance of learning and speaking up about stress, the importance of self care to our mental health, and young girls of colour (us) in society.

Find more of Tanya’s work on her website http://www.niazamar.com

 

 

New Digital Stories (2016)

Rachel and Vivian worked really hard on their stories, both of which cover navigating different worlds and spaces in their lives.