A Yoga Teacher Barbie has popped up in Target’s “I Can Be…” line of the blonde Mattel mascot, and much as we love yoga AND empowering young girls through physical activity and sports, we’re not crazy about this active role model. On the one hand, doing yoga sets a great example for young girls (especially compared to the alternative “I Can Be… Bride” set we spotted on Target’s website). On the other hand, Barbie has a lot adjustments to make before she can be a body positive, empowering role model for young girls.
We’ll set aside the fact that yoga Barbie comes with a tiny dog instead of, say, a mat, strap or block. (And while her pastel-hued pajamas aren’t to my tastes, I’ll even commend them for not putting her in a trendy lulu-inspired outfit.) But she’s still sporting a bust-waist-hip proportion that’s physically impossible for real-life women to attain, let alone maintain an active lifestyle with.
This is far from the first time Mattel has tried to make Barbie more than a pretty face (and big boobs and a tiny waist and dainty little feet)—earlier this year, the “I Can Be…” line made a presidential Barbie that developed significant fanfare amongst moms, and the line has happily expanded to include athletic Barbies lately. But even here, there’s a disturbing trend beyond the unattainable proportions they all share: Even the sports they play seem somewhat, well…girly. So far, it looks like Barbie is into yoga, tennis, gymanistics, and track…but what about aggressive contact sports like soccer, rugby, and basketball?
Putting Barbie into running shoes (or yoga socks) is a step in the right direction, but if Mattel really wants to empower young girls (and sell dolls to hordes of parents who want to provide better examples for their kids), they need to give her a body-positive makeover and let her play a wider range of sports.