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Monday, March 16, 2009

Obese Barbie?

In an effort to raise awareness about obesity, a company called Active Life made ads with obese toys and dolls--including Barbie. While I agree that true obesity is a health problem that people should be aware of, and I fully believe kids should eat healthy food and have an active lifestyle (as should we all!), I'm not sure I love the common public understanding this ad campaign relies on: that Barbie is ugly and not cool when she's fat. That obese Barbie is lazy and sits around eating food out of cartons while surfing the web and watching TV.

This visual reinforces mean stereotypes about people who aren't skinny, and again re-entangles beauty and health motivations. While obesity may contribute to heart problems and diabetes, our culture is obsessed with labeling it as a (social) disease because we are obsessed with appearances and have such a limited standard of attractiveness. Unfortunately, this to me, is what this ad series is all about. And promoting an insecure body image to children certainly does nothing to boost their health.

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