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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:47 pm 
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Persephone wrote:
How Barbie would look if she were based on more 'average' dimensions:

http://m.huffpost.com/us/entry/3529460


I saw this! I thought it was awesome. "Average" barbie is still a babe.

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:49 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:25 pm 
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Oh wow. I wish they would replace the original Barbie with that one!

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 11:32 pm 
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sparrowsgirl wrote:
Oh wow. I wish they would replace the original Barbie with that one!


I know, right? DAT ASS.

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:15 pm 
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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Mon Sep 02, 2013 12:54 am 
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Goth Barbie Celebrates ‘Freaky Flaws' by Looking Like Regular Barbie
By Callie Beusman
July 17, 2013

Back in the days of yore (2010), toy giant Mattell lumbered into its laboratory and came out with an atypical line of dolls that's since been affectionately nicknamed "Goth Barbies." That term isn't exactly right — in reality, the brand is a bit different. The toy line is called Monster High, and it's set in a fictional monster high school in which every student is the progeny of a famous mystical beast.

The dolls of Monster High are now the second best-selling in the world, and it's continuing to grow as a franchise (Barbie remains at number one, so the witch revolution clearly still has some gains to make). New characters are continually added to the brand. According to those who market the Monster High toy line, they embody a message of acceptance and relatability. During the slightly ill-conceived rap that opens each of Monster High's webisodes, for instance, a teenaged ghoul intones, "[They're] a little strange, but so are you/Don't you want to be a monster too?" Yeah! Let's all ride this "little monster" train right to the Land of Self-Acceptance! But how subversive is their message, really?

Monster High is meant to dovetail two recent cultural trends: media that encourages children to accept and celebrate their own unique perceived abnormalities or flaws (i.e., Glee, Lady Gaga, etc.) and the burgeoning young female interest in darker subject matter — such as Twilight and goth fashion. In the words of marketing exec Cathy Cline, "The message about the brand is really to celebrate your own freaky flaws, especially as bullying has become such a hot topic." It has the potential to provide young girls with a different model of femininity: one that's not centered around beauty — and the rituals that surround maintaining one's beauty — as a primary indicator of worth; one that encourages interest in arenas that aren't traditionally "girly"; one that isn't intrinsically linked with romance and dating.

On the surface, Monster High seems to do this. According to NPR:

Quote:
The characters are plugged into the same kind of things a cool 16-year-old might enjoy, like rockabilly, snowboarding, and environmental activism. Draculaura, for example (she's Dracula's daughter), can't stand the thought of blood. "She's a vegan. She's turned off by meat," says [Kiyomi] Haverly [vice president of design at Mattell]. "Girls could really relate to that because that's part of what they're thinking of these days."


But, in reality, the brand doesn't really encourage individuality at all. A quick look at the "Students" section of the Monster High website makes it pretty clear that the brand's message is, "Okay, girls, let your freak flag fly! You're free to be you no matter what! As long as 'you' is a fashion-loving, boy-chasing very thin teenager with the facial features of a cast member from Pretty Little Liars. The 'freaky' part is that, instead of having white skin, you can have the coloration of any pastel hue on the visible light spectrum." Diversity!

Oh, no, wait, there's a Chinese dragon, complete with a silk dress (traditional!) and huge, green eyes. And a few Black characters — most of whom are related to one another. And there's a Mexican young woman — no, wait, what's that? She's from "Hexico"? Oh, boy. Her favorite activity is "anything associated with Día de los Muertos;" instead of creating a Hispanic-looking doll, though, Mattell has decided that she should look like a sexy Caucasian sugar skull . Naturally.

On top of that, the website displays a disturbing obsession with body image. As NPR notes, the dolls are so thin that you have to remove their hands in order to dress them. On the bio of the main character, "Frankie Stein," the first sentence reads, "My friends say I have the perfect figure for fashion!" In addition, here's a list of disturbing "Freaky Flaws," culled from other character bios:

"Draculaura," daughter of Dracula:

Quote:
Since I can't see myself in the mirror, I have to leave the house not knowing if my clothes and makeup are just right.


Clawdeen Wolf, daughter of The Werewolf:

Quote:
My hair is worthy of a shampoo commercial and that's just what grows on my legs. Plucking and shaving is definitely a full time job but that's a small price to pay for being scarily fabulous.


Lagoona Blue, daughter of the Sea Monster:

Quote:
My skin tends to dry out if I spend too much time out of the water so I go through a fright of moisturizer. Chlorine from the Monster High pool also has the tendency to turn my blonde hair blue.


If the purported goal of the toy is to teach girls the value of self-acceptance, this really isn't cutting it. In the first place, "hairy legs" or "dry skin" far from the most pressing "freaky flaw" that a youth can face. Secondly, rather than providing a model of how a child can cope with feeling different, these character bios serve to reinforce the feminine imperative to be hairless, made up, and moisturized. To market the brand as a celebration of flaws is ridiculously specious.

Instead of providing a valuable representation for children of other races and ethnicities, children who fail to conform to our rigid expectations of body-type, LGBT children, and so on, Mattell has populated yet another fantasy universe with superficial, mostly white, wealthy (each of the three main characters is obsessed with shopping — and they all have famous dads), and boy-crazed teens. Monster High is not at all a departure from the norm: it's just more of the same.

Jezebel

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:37 am 
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Although my children are adults now, I still worry about the effect radically disproportionate toys, in combination with the diet/anti-fat mentality, are having on children. Without claiming that toys cause eating disorders, I still believe they are part of an overwhelmingly pervasive social environment that may trigger or reinforce a disposition towards developing an eating disorder.

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Put Down That Barbie (2013 Edition)–And Find Empowering Dolls!
By Renee Davidson
November 19, 2013

For centuries, dolls have helped children develop their socioemotional skills by teaching them how to empathize with others. Last year, dolls raked in nearly $2.7 billion in sales, making them one of the toy industry’s biggest items.

However, not all of today’s dolls offer emotionally healthy experiences for children. Increasingly, parents are speaking out against how mainstream toys send children negative messages about such issues as gender, body image and race.

The last few years have seen several sexy head-to-toe makeovers of popular children’s characters. Dora the Explorer, once hailed by parents everywhere for her stereotype-bashing, was transformed from a cute toddler to a Barbie-in-training. Strawberry Shortcake used to be most recognizable for her frumpy hat and green stockings, but now she sports pink locks and long lashes. Even gender-neutral trolls have been reincarnated as hip and sexy Trollz, rivaling Bratz, the Winx Club and Monster High for the title of “sexiest dolls on the block.” The list of sexualized, feminized toys goes on: Holly Hobby, Legos, My Little Pony, Polly Pocket, Rainbow Bright. Even the Care Bears are now more pretty and feminine than they are fun and fluffy.

When it comes to their effects on children, particularly young girls, these sexualized makeovers aren’t all fun and games. “When we give a child a doll, what we’re saying to that child is ‘This is what people look like, this is what women look like, this is what you might aspire to,’” says Susan Linn, executive director of Campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood (CCFC). With dolls getting prettier and skinnier than ever, it comes as no surprise that, by age 3, girls begin to equate thinness with beauty and popularity. By age 5, they express dissatisfaction with their weight, and by age 9 many experience the onset of eating disorders.

In addition to sending unhealthy messages about body and beauty ideals, today’s mainstream dolls continue to offer a limited range of racial diversity. “Part of what is lacking and is hard for children of color is not seeing themselves [reflected] in toys or in popular culture,” says Linn. Study after study underscores the importance of cultural representation, yet options for parents who want to buy their children black dolls remain sparse. And when mainstream ethnic dolls do exist, they’re often made from the same mold as their mainstream, white counterparts. This move reinforces racist messages that whiteness is the ideal, or that black women are beautiful only insofar as they look like white women.

The problems don’t stop there. Linn notes that in today’s media-saturated climate, the best-selling dolls are increasingly based upon characters from popular movies and TV shows. From Disney Princesses to Angry Birds, these commercialized toy lines do more than sucker parents into making further purchases—their already-established characters and storylines also impede the emotional and cognitive benefits of imaginative play. “The best toys,” says Linn, “are ones that children can transform into something,” not ones that come with prepackaged plots.

Fortunately, parents are pushing back against the commercialization, gendering and whitewashing of toys. Earlier this year, a New York mother petitioned Mattel to include more racially diverse doll products. This spring, parents successfully protested Disney’s feminine makeover of Merida from Brave, a character who had previously been lauded for her rare lack of sexualization. This summer, the grassroots group Let Toys Be Toys succeeded in petitioning UK retailers to stop separating toys into “boys” and “girls” sections, inspiring Ms. magazine to launch a similar petition in the U.S.

In addition to protesting and petitioning, Linn underscores that parents can weed out unhealthy children’s products by posing a few key questions before making purchases. First, parents can think about the play value of the product, such as Can it be used in more than one way? and Does it encourage or discourage creative play?

Check here for examples of child-empowering doll and toy options.

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:48 am 
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Fat is a Preschool Issue Excerpt
March 18, 2012

What’s new, however, is the ever-earlier age at which children—girls particularly– become conscious of weight. In Schoolgirls I cited a study revealing that 50% of 9-year-old girls were dieting (check this Wall Street Journal article by a reporter who, to see for himself, interviewed a group of girls when that study came out; he talked to them again recently as adults). But now, it appears, by age three girls equate thinness with beauty, sweetness, niceness and popularity; they associate “fat” meanwhile with laziness, stupidity and friendlessness.

Yes, I said three. In a 2010 study researchers engaged 3-5 year old girls in games of Candyland and Chutes & Ladders asking them to choose among three game pieces–a thin one, an average-sized one and a fat one–to represent themselves. While in the past children that age showed little ability to distinguish between average and thin weights, today’s wee ones grabbed thin pieces at higher rates not only than fat ones but than those of “normal” weight. When asked by researchers to swap a thin figure for a fat one, the girls not only recoiled but some refused to even touch the chubbier game piece making comments such as, “I hate her, she has a fat stomach,” or “She is fat. I don’t want to be that one.”

Again: preschoolers.

As I’ve written before on this blog, toy manufacturers have lately classic toys on a diet, claiming (apparently rightly) that “Girls won’t play with childlike dolls any more.”

Peggy Orenstein

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:57 am 
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Does Barbie Make Girls Want to Be Thin? The Effect of Experimental Exposture to Images of Dolls on the Body Image of 5- to 8-Year-Old Girls
Discussion and Conclusion

By Helga Dittmar, Emma Halliwell and Suzanne Ive

The main findings of this experiment are twofold. First, they showed that very young girls experience heightened body dissatisfaction after exposure to Barbie doll images but not after exposure to Emme doll (or neutral control) images. This demonstrates that it is not body-related information conveyed by dolls per se that has a direct impact on young girls’ body image, but by Barbie dolls specifically, which represent a distortedly thin body ideal. These ultrathin images not only lowered young girls’ body esteem but also decreased their satisfaction with their actual body size, making them desire a thinner body. This detrimental effect was evident already for girls from age 51⁄2 to age 61⁄2 but was more pronounced among 61⁄2- to 71⁄2-year-olds. Both lowered body esteem and wanting a thinner body are indicators of body dissatisfaction, which can lead to serious consequences such as depressed affect and unhealthy eating behaviors, particularly dieting, which, in turn, is a precursor of eating disorders (e.g., Grogan, 1999; Ricciardelli & McCabe, 2001; Ricciardelli et al., 2003). Previous research on girls’ body dissatisfaction has focused on adolescents or preadolescent children from age 8 onward, but this study highlights the need to begin earlier in the quest for body image disturbance, the onset of which appears to be at a younger age than previously thought. The present findings suggest that Barbie dolls’ ultrathin body proportions provide an aspirational role model for very young girls that causes body dissatisfaction. Girls today are swamped by ultrathin ideals not only in the form of dolls but also in comics, cartoons, TV, and advertising along with all the associated merchandising, but Barbie appears to occupy a strong and special role in girls’ developing body image (Kuther & McDonald, 2004), so that exposure to images of Barbie doll leads to detrimental effects, at least when girls are young enough to identify with Barbie doll. As argued in the introduction, developmentally, the influence of Barbie as a sociocultural embodiment of the thin beauty ideal on very young girls’ self-concept and self-evaluation appears to be direct and not yet mediated by internalized cognitive self-concept structures, such as the thinness ideal.

It seems likely that developmental changes in self-processes (e.g., Bussey & Bandura, 1999; Ruble, 1983; Vygotsky, 1991), in which responses to sociocultural stimuli become more reflexive because of the greater involvement of children’s self-concept, can help explain why exposure to Barbie doll images did not result in negative effects on the body image of the oldest group of girls, from age 71⁄2 to age 81⁄2. It seems likely that there is a sensitive phase when girls use Barbie dolls as aspirational role models, which may end around age 7 to age 8 because girls have internalized the thin beauty ideal by then, and their desire to be thinner is more a reflection of that internalized standard than a direct response to environmental stimuli. If this account is accurate, then concern about Barbie as a powerful socialization agent of an unhealthy, ultrathin, and unachievable body ideal cannot be dismissed easily on the grounds that her influence may be short-lived, “it’s something they grow out of” (model Cindy Jackson on CBS News, 2004). Although possibly true at a surface level, the damage has already been done if it is the case that Barbie is a highly significant, if not the only, vehicle through which very young girls internalize an unhealthily thin ideal. Moreover, it also seems likely that they move on from Barbie dolls to other sociocultural sources of ideal body information such as magazines or computer games. For example, in the immensely successful Tomb Raider series played by older children, Lara Croft’s body proportions are similar to Barbie’s.

The unanticipated finding that older girls reported a greater desire to be thin when adults after exposure to Emme dolls (compared with neutral control images) deserves comment because this suggests that more realistically sized dolls may not only fail to prevent body dissatisfaction in girls aged over 7 but also have the undesirable, opposite effect of increasing it. For these older girls, if they have already internalized the thinness ideal, then the depiction of a full body could represent a possible, but feared, future self (Markus & Nurius, 1986; Ogilvie, 1987; Ogilvie & Clark, 1992). This interpretation, that thinness-internalized girls see fullbodied Emme as implying a threat that they, too, may end up not thin when they are older, is supported by the finding that the negative impact of exposure to Emme dolls manifested itself only in an increased desire to have a thinner adult body, not a thinner body right now.

Excerpted from Developmental Psychology, 2006

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Sun Dec 01, 2013 5:04 am 
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The scary trend of tweens with anorexia
By Margaret Renkl

Once considered a risk only for wealthy, high-achieving teenage girls, eating disorders such as anorexia (and, more rarely, bulimia) are becoming increasingly common among children, even little boys.

"In the last two years, we've actually had to add a treatment track to deal with kids ages 9 to 11," says Margaret Kelley, clinical nurse manager for the eating disorders treatment program at The Children's Hospital in Denver. "And we're getting many more boys. We used to see one or two a year at most, but we've almost always got one or two boys in the program now."
The average age for the onset of anorexia used to be 13 to 17. Now it's 9 to 12, and children as young as 7 have been diagnosed, says Abigail Natenshon, a psychotherapist and author of "When Your Child Has an Eating Disorder."

No one knows how many preteens are affected today, though 5% of adolescents are affected. What is known is that at least 10% of adult anorexics first showed clear symptoms of the condition before they were 10 years old -- and kids growing up today may be even more vulnerable.
More than 60% of elementary and middle school teachers reported that eating disorders are a problem in their schools, according to a study by the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders.

The vast majority of kids in this country don't have an eating disorder and will probably never develop one. But experts are concerned about the rise in nearly epidemic proportions of "disordered eating" -- a pattern of dieting or calorie restriction that's unhealthy and a known trigger for eating disorders. Some troubling statistics from the National Eating Disorders Association:

-- 42% of kids in first through third grades wish they were thinner
-- 81% of 10 year olds are afraid of becoming fat
-- 51% of 9- and 10-year-old girls say they feel better about themselves when they are on a diet

Numbers like these are red flags for experts. And perhaps the most worrisome news is that it's not just overweight kids who are restricting calories.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, significant numbers of normal-weight and underweight kids are also dieting: 16% of girls ages 8 to 11, and 19% of girls ages 12 to 15. The numbers are slightly lower for boys, though these, too, are rising.

Why kids are vulnerable

Eating disorders have been documented across cultures for hundreds of years and are linked to certain personality traits that appear to be inherited -- such as high levels of anxiety, perfectionism, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, depression and addiction.

"With genetics, kids can be preloaded," says Kelley. So when a kid with a genetic predisposition for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) goes on a diet, for example, the combination of calorie restriction and obsessive-compulsive behavior can quickly create an eating disorder.

It's impossible to predict exactly which of the many children who show signs of disordered eating will go on to develop an actual eating disorder, but there's no doubt that the world we live in isn't exactly helping to protect them.

For one thing, kids today hear a lot more about weight and body shape than we heard in childhood. They get anti-obesity messages at school (which can sometimes backfire, making perfectly healthy children paranoid about ice cream and other "fattening" foods), are bombarded by weight-loss ads on TV, see six-pack abs on the covers of magazines and idolize stars in teeny-tiny jeans.

Our culture serves up such a vast smorgasbord of body judgments, is it any wonder that so many kids are unhappy with the way they look?

"Children today are internalizing the idea of not being okay with who they are, and dieting is a way to change that," says Dena L. Cabrera, a psychologist at the Remuda Programs for Eating and Anxiety Disorders.

Kids also participate in sports at a much more competitive level than they did in the past. Some activities -- like gymnastics, ballet, wrestling, running and diving -- can make them particularly conscious of their appearance, because their bodies are under heavy audience scrutiny and weight can affect the outcome of the competition.

"One of my patients developed an eating disorder at age thirteen when her figure-skating coach told her that she would look much better in her outfit if her rear end were smaller," says Natenshon.

For girls, puberty itself can be a trigger in this era of stick-thin stars. Kids tend to grow taller in rapid growth spurts, but they gain weight a bit at a time, all along the way.

Right before a growth spurt, both girls and boys can look a little chunky because their height hasn't caught up yet with their additional weight. For girls approaching puberty, add breast buds and widening hips, and you've got a recipe for self-consciousness. They may begin to diet or exercise excessively as a way to compensate.

Nowhere near all kids who exhibit early symptoms of an eating disorder will go on to develop the full-blown disease. But parents need to recognize the warning signs because it's far easier to prevent a case of disordered eating from becoming an eating disorder than it is to treat an entrenched case.

Excerpted from CNN Health

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Mon Mar 31, 2014 6:56 pm 
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There are lots of hyperlinks in the source article if you are interested in looking them up.

Quote:
Girls can be anything when they grow up – until they start playing with Barbie
Just because kids have iPads doesn't mean toys have lost their impact. It's time to deconstruct the plastic blond bombshell – especially the swimsuit edition
By Aurora Sherman and Eileen Zurbriggen
March 31, 2014

Ever ask a seven-year-old girl what she wants to be when she grows up? Chances are that if she plays with a Barbie, "scientist" won't be her first choice.

We recently asked 37 girls in the US between the ages of four and seven to spend some time with a toy and then answer two questions: how many of 10 different jobs could you do when you grow up? And how many of these jobs could a boy do when he grows up?

The results of our study – the first of its kind to show how the iconic plastic blond bombshell can affect young girls' early ideas about their place in the world – are as sobering as they are indicative of the narrow ideal we offer to our daughters. After only five minutes of playing with Barbie, girls in our sample said that boys could do more jobs in the future than they could. Girls who played with Mrs Potato Head, on the other hand, responded that they could do about the same number of jobs as boys someday.

Barbie has long been popular, but she's been in the spotlight recently, from Mattel's controversial decision to partner with the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition, to a call from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood for the Girl Scouts to end their partnership with the doll, to a crowd-sourcing fundraiser to market a realistically proportioned Barbie alternative. Barbie is an American cultural stalwart, but it's time we once again considered her impact – and that of toys in general – on the lives and identities of the young boys and girls who play with them.

Developmental science has shown that children are constantly learning, from the first hours of life, from every experience and every encounter. Even children at "play" are still actively taking in information and making sense of the world. So what kinds of meaning do they derive from playing with dolls like Barbie?

Barbie's message for girls is a narrow one. Mattel didn't partner with any of several initiatives to include girls and women in science, such as For Girls in Science or the White House initiative on women in STEM. Instead, they went "sexy" by choosing to partner with the SI swimsuit edition. This is, of course, consistent with an increasingly sexualized environment for girls and women: the American Psychological Association Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls has noted that social pressures focused on appearance – especially a thin and sexy appearance – can lead to depression, low self-esteem and eating disorders, all of which can have a negative impact on girls and work to limit their options in the future. And television, movies, magazines, advertising, music videos, video games and clothing, among others reinforce one message: that women and girls will be judged for how they look, not what they do.

These pressures aren't simply theoretical: scientific evidence shows that higher exposure to sexualized media is linked to depression, body dissatisfaction and self-sexualization, as girls internalize objectifying messages through repeated exposure over time. Self-sexualization leads girls to obsess over their bodies and appearance, which can result in impaired cognitive performance for college-age women. We don't yet fully understand how sexualization influences the well-being of girls, but there's no evidence so far to suggest that the impact could be positive.

The focus of our study was girls, but narrow gender socialization affects boys, too. Wander through any toy store and you'll find all the pink and purple toys and dolls in one aisle, while the dark blues, browns, trucks and weapons are in another. Just as girls are limited by their gender socialization, boys are limited by theirs. And in boys, the fear of being labeled a "sissy" can lead to aggression, risk-taking and homophobia. Bombarded by sexualized media portrayals of women, boys grow up learning to treat women as objects, which also makes them less satisfied in their adult romantic relationships.

Parents need to pay closer attention to the overt – as well as the unintended – messages that their children's toys carry, and the effect that these messages can have on the adults they will one day grow into. It's time we expanded what our children know, and by doing so, what they can become. Maybe it's time we even started listening to the tagline for one of those crowd-sourced Barbie alternatives – average can be beautiful – and then looked beyond average, too.

The Guardian

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 Post subject: Re: Barbie - and other children's toys: harmless or not?
PostPosted: Tue Apr 01, 2014 12:04 pm 
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I wonder if I should be thankful for having been a weird nerdy kid? I didn't think about dieting as a kid or my body in general. I ate what I wanted, played with my dad's electronics kit and legos more than anything else, didn't really get into reading magazines other than National Geographic and later Reader's Digest...I was spared from diet culture until my late teens which is when my family started harassing me more and more about my weight and I started noticing my mom's anorexia more and more and wanting to be thinner so people would just leave me be.

I also postulate that one of the things that helped me heal was my inner weird nerdy kid. At some point wanting to go back to being what I was and thinking about things that were much cooler than worrying about weight outweighed my fear of gaining weight and being seen again and so I began the long journey to recovery.

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