New research has found that playing with Barbie dolls just once can make young girls think they need to be thin.

The study, published in the journal Body Image, found that the dolls made girls as young as five see having a skinny body as ideal, shares Daily Mail.

Researchers interviewed 160 Australian girls aged five to eight to get the findings.

The study concluded that the girls only had to play with the dolls, or look at images of Barbie, to think that they needed to be thin.

International body image expert, Marika Tiggemann, told the Herald Sun that parents shouldn’t give their daughters the dolls.

Children should ‘not to be given ¬≠Barbies when they are young,’ she said.

‘If girls already have Barbies then parents should encourage them to do more than just make them look ¬≠pretty.’

She also said that this leads to girls believing that appearance, especially the appearance of being thin, was very important.

‘Exposure to Barbie promoted internalisation of the thin ideal in this sample of girls,’ she explained.

‘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.’

Mattel has rejected the research findings, saying that it ‘failed to accurately represent…realistic play experiences.’

Mattel has recently released a range of Barbies with different body shapes, including a ‘curvy’ Barbie.

Isn’t it up to parents to ensure children are aware it is just a toy. Nothing more than that and certainly not something to aspire to?

Do you agree?

Share your comments below.

Image via Getty

  • Political correctness here or a form of it at least. Think too much is read into the theory.


  • Not saying all kids are like me, but I always had barbie’s never thought one bit about how skinny they were or what they looked like. I never wanted to look like a barbie


  • The research is so poorly described you can’t tell what the results indicate.


  • I thought I had seen some that weren’t as skinny. Why do kids insist on undressing them. Many lose the clothes off them too? I find it so frustrating when you buy special sets of dolls to signify marriage or family with similar clothes, even similar hair colouring and they mess them up.


  • What a load of rubbish …seriously feed your children healthy foods with sweets as special treats and in-courage your children to love them selves.
    And let them know these dolls are just toys .
    Seriously children who play with monster high dolls don’t crave to have large heads.
    Barbie is fine for children as far as I am concerned.


  • My kids played for many years with barbies and I never heard them talking about the need to be thin because barbies are thin. It’s just a toy, they don’t represent the image we should look. When you look in general how many dolls are out there with another kin colour then fair/white ? Does this mean we all should be white/ fair skinned ?
    Or how many dolls are out there with a disability ? Does that mean that when you have a disability and not one single doll is like you, you’re not ok ?
    I think this is over the top.


  • There are far worse toys out there than Barbie. Have you seen Monster High? They’re dressed more like strippers. How about everything in moderation? And teaching your kids to have confidence in themselves and learn to love themselves. Unless you’re going to sit and wait for couch-potato barbie to come out…


  • What a load of crap! Totally disagree.


  • I don’t believe half of what they say. Does that mean if I grew up playing with Teddy Bears I’d think that’s how I should look. There are so many dolls and they don’t have that effect on kids. Why is it just the Barbie dolls they are attacking? I had Barbie dolls and I never thought that’s how I should look. It’s society that makes us think we should look a certain way


  • So typical of the rubbish so-called “experts” peddle. I’ve had 3 children of my own, my two girls played with barbies and didn’t develop any problems with self-image or eating disorders. My son used a barbie doll to destroy buildings that both he and his sisters had built. I’ve also cared for many children who play with barbies, and have kept in touch with many, and none have developed any self image or eating disorders. Now my grandchildren are playing with barbies, my grand daughter only plays with hers if a playmate is there as well, my grandson uses it much like my son used to. The only eating disorder they have developed is the well known complaint of many parents, standing in front of a pantry filled to overflowing and being told that there “is nothing to eat”
    It takes a LOT more than just playing with a doll to affect body image. I would suggest these “experts” look to the media in which they write their rubbish, and cast a judging eye on what is portrayed on their pages. Are there any “normal” women pictured (in all their varieties) or are there only pencil thin, no bust, no hips seen on fashion catwalks.


  • What a load of rubbish, better not let your child out in the street, they may see a slim person and think they have to be slim! For pity’s sake haven’t people got a mind of their own? I had a baby doll when I was young, it didn’t make me want to remain a baby, had a tea set as well, didn’t make me love doing dishes, who pays for these ridiculous researches and who would be so feeble minded they actually think it’s right. Let children enjoy being children and if they like Barbie (I personally don’t) let them play without filling their minds with all these other deep meanings, it’s just a toy.


  • The study appears very one sided. It does not take into account other influences in the lives of the children questioned in the study, such as magazines their parents read, other children they hang out with, parents opinions and how the questions in the study where structured or presented. Honestly, they are just toys and toys come in all shapes and sizes. It is up to us as parents to set realistic expectations for our children.


  • Barbie is still an unrealistic way to portray women. Long legs skinny legs for a start. I have known ladies with short legs and they always feel they have to wear the highest heels.


  • Oh! It looks to me like the research is quite exaggerated!


  • it’s not just playing with barbie dolls, it’s also commercial tv and the adverts they show and peer pressure influences as well – my daughter is 9 and “skinny as a rake” but already thinks that she is fat and needs to diet. It’s heartbreaking to think that she is watching what she eats or not eating – at this age.

    We need to be showing kids how to love their bodies no matter if they are short or tall, big or small or medium – as women especially we need to show our young girls how to be comfortable in our own skin and lead by example.


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