According to this, Mattel’s revenues took a bit of a tumble in the first quarter, with sales dropping by 15% after Barbie was given an “image overhaul” to look more “realistic.”
When the curvier Barbie was introduced last year, there was an initial rise in sales, but since then it’s been a downward trend. Mattel, as you may recall, has faced harsh criticism for YEARS for daring to make a doll that little girls have loved since forever, because she had big boobs and a tiny waist and would surely drive every young girl who played with her to a lifelong battle of eating disorders.
So Mattel caved, saying that it had a “responsibility to reflect a broader view of beauty” and created a Barbie with a fuller figure so that it would be more “reflective of the world girls see around them.”
But it turns out people don’t want dolls that are reflective of the world around them. Granted, sales of Barbie dolls have been on a downward trend for a while now, but it doesn’t appear to have much to do with the whole body image thing. More likely, it’s due to the availability of more high tech toys.
But the story got me thinking about the whole body positivity movement, and how ridiculous it has become. Take this for instance.
According to that sourcelink, there’s now a huge push to include more plus size models in fashion magazines like Vogue, InStyle, and Glamour. Fashion brand navabi has launched a campaign called #moreplusplease in order to “spread awareness” about the lack of plus sized women on magazine covers.
Their point? The average American woman today is between a size 16 and 18, and yet, women of those sizes are rarely featured on the covers of fashion mags. So navabi photoshopped a bunch of heavy models and bloggers onto the covers to make a statement. BEHOLD:
Bethany Rutter, who’s the social editor at navabi, and also a plus-size woman explained, “It’s so hard to navigate the world never seeing women like yourself portrayed in a positive light. Being reflected and represented in mainstream media is, fundamentally, helpful at making you feel at home in the world. This is something that thin women can take for granted, but is completely alien to plus-size women. I think we want to show people that there is another way. That fashion magazines aren’t inherently bad, they’re just very selective with the images they deem aspirational. But it doesn’t have to be like that.”
Really? It’s “hard to navigate the world” when overweight women aren’t on magazine covers? Seriously?
And further, she said:
“I think partly because the covers look so convincing, which shows how silly it is to leave plus-size women out of the mainstream women’s media conversation like this. Plus-size women are complete people who are interesting, vibrant, intelligent, stylish, just like anyone else.”
Ok – this is when I’m pretty certain to piss off a whole bunch of people, but can we just unpack this for a second?
The women on those covers look like a bunch of overweight, regular everyday women. I’m not suggesting that they’re NOT interesting, vibrant, intelligent or stylish. But they’re not aspirational. I don’t want to look like them. I don’t buy fashion magazines to look at a bunch of “average” American women. I buy them to look at exceptionally beautiful and fit women in exceptionally beautiful clothes. I may never look like them or wear the amazing clothes they wear, but I aspire to. So that’s what I wanna see.
Maybe that’s mean, but let’s look at it a different way.
Let’s say I’m the kind of person who is into interior design or landscaping. If I’m the average American, more than likely I live in a regular, modest home with a regular, modest yard and regular, modest furniture. It’s what I’m most often exposed to. What kind of magazines would I want to buy – ones that show middle class, modest homes and normal yards that I can see everyday in my own neighborhood? Or ones that show amazing mansions and gardens that go on as far as the eye can see? Which magazines are more aspirational? Do I want to look at magazines that feature tiny kitchens with furniture from Value City or do I want to see gigantic dream kitchens and backyards with glorious infinity pools?
I may never HAVE a gigantic dream kitchen or a backyard with a glorious infinity pool or an amazing mansion. But I aspire to. So that’s what I wanna see.
If I’m a dude who’s into cars, and yet, my daily driver is a ’95 Toyota Corrolla, do you think I want to buy magazines with Toyota Corollas on the cover? No. I wanna buy magazines featuring exotic sports cars or the newest concept cars. I may never own one, but I aspire to. So that’s what I wanna see.
When did our culture get so freaking sensitive? Why are we now pretending that the women featured on those covers above have appearances that other women aspire to have? Unless you’re a woman who is HEAVIER than those women, chances are, you don’t want to look like them. That’s why you’re not going to find magazines with headlines that say, “Learn how to pack on the pounds!” or “Desperate to gain an extra 20? LET US SHOW YOU HOW!”
It’s great for people to feel good about themselves. But can we please dispense with this ridiculous notion that being fat is supposed to be something people should aspire to be? If you’re a normal human being, you probably don’t WANT to be fat. You don’t WANT to see regular normal people wearing regular normal clothes on the covers of your favorite fashion mags.
If people want to argue that clothing CATALOGS should feature more regular, normal body types so that when you’re actually shopping you can more easily imagine what you might look like in the clothes, I can maybe possibly get on board. But let’s leave the fashion magazines the way they are. Let’s keep them HONESTLY aspirational, instead of pandering to the body positivity movement.