Hmmm…who does that look like?
Related Post: In 1998 Mattel sued the Body Shop for these plus-size Barbie-esque ads.
Related Post: Handy chart for buying toys for girls. Is there a bustier involved?
I was ten in 1998. I had just got my first AIM screen name. The squealing AOL took so long to dial up that I took showers while waiting to IM with all my ten-year-old friends about really important ten-year-old things.
In 1998, I didn’t have a google reader, or Facebook, or Twitter. I didn’t read blogs. The word blog wouldn’t even make the dictionary for 6 more years. Without fourteen social networks telling me what to read on the internet, I completely missed the boat on the Body Shop’s “Ruby” debacle. Too bad, it would have been right up my alley.
The Body Shop launched a campaign featuring a size-16 plastic figurine nicknamed “Ruby” for her rubenesque shape.
The campaign launched around the world until two things happened. China banned the ads on subway platforms, claiming indecency. Mattel, maker of the ubiquitous Barbie (one sold every 2 seconds), sent a cease-and-desist order. They claimed that Ruby capitalized on their trademark plastic dolls and that her image was doing them a disservice.
I know there are some that will look at Ruby and say she can’t possibly be a “healthy” role model, and who in their right mind would shove such an an unhealthy ideal on children? Fair point. But apply the same standard to Barbie and you run into a bit of a conundrum.
A life-size Barbie would be 5’9″ and 110lb. She would have size three shoes, and she would have an 18″ waist. Most people would also argue that this is also an “unhealthy” ideal. And yet, over 900,000, 000 Barbies are sold every year.
Here’s the thing: kids like dolls. I might want my hypothetical kid to entertain themselves with crayons and play-dough all day long, but what if she (or he)* wants a doll? How do I talk about body confidence and the vast and wonderful range of human forms to a three-year-old? I think I would start by making sure whatever dolls we have around don’t all look the same, not all Rubys, not all Barbies. Variety is the spice of life, amirite?
*Action figures aren’t so awesome for boys either.
Related Post: I made a handy chart to figure out what to buy girls. It’s not foolproof but it’s a start.
Related Post: Speaking of rubenesque beauty… interesting survey results out of the UK.
Related Post: Oh jesus this again… there is no “real” body type!