For years there have been mothers who’ve been dead set against getting their daughters a Barbie doll because they think it it poorly represents an unrealistic image of women, especially when it comes to their waist size. Well, apparently all those moms weren’t wrong, because a new study suggests that it doesn’t take long for Barbie to have a negative effect on a child’s body image.
A study out of Australia talked to 160 girls between the ages of five and eight and discovered that playing with Barbie for just one day can make girls as young as five think that a skinny body is the ultimate ideal. And in truth, they don’t even have to play with the doll. Girls can simply look at pictures of Barbie and they’ll think that they too need to be thin.
“Exposure to Barbie promoted internalization of the thin ideal in this sample of girls,” professor Marika Tiggemann explains. “This means they think appearance is important and in particular being skinny is good. If fat is bad, then thin is good, and thinner is better.”
For this reason, Tiggemann suggests that parents hold off giving Barbies to very young girls, but if they already have them “parents should encourage them to do more than just make them look pretty.”