Life

Barbie's image change can help to reflect a broader view of beauty

Toymaker Mattel have added 'tall, curvy and petite' body shapes to its Barbie doll line-up

AS a mum of three boys, it's not often you find me perusing the toy shop aisles full of pretty dolls, miniature prams and nail art.

But just recently I veered off my usual tractor driving, Lego building, superhero powered toy adventure and went shopping for a 'girlish' present, as my four-year-old son would call it.

From a little rocking cradle to a Baby Annabell and a pink tea set, it was like I was stepping back into my own childhood.

But nothing captured it more than the next item I spotted on the shelf - the Barbie doll - one of the staple toys of my younger years.

When I think back on the Barbies of my childhood, and I had a lot, every one of them looked the same. Different outfits maybe but other than that they were all very similar.

But on closer inspection of the Barbie dolls of 2016, it appears the toy I grew up with has received a makeover, one very big, realistic makeover.

The cultural icon and a source of inspiration and imagination to millions of girls around the world, the one that boasted stick thin legs, tiny waist and all over petite frame has had an image change of epic proportions.

The Barbie doll has faced heavy criticism for decades, with the makers of the plastic doll constantly accused of promoting an unhealthy image to young girls.

And it appears that the penny may have finally dropped and the old favourite had received her most significant update since the 1950s - it's out with the blonde, blue-eyed skeletal appearance of implausible proportions and in with the more realistic curvy hips and thighs.

In fact, the US company behind the famous toy, Mattel, have produced three new body types for the fashion dolls to reflect a 'broader view of beauty'.

The toymaker has added 'tall, curvy and petite' body shapes to its line-up.

Several skin tones, eye colours and hair styles including, mohawks, afros, braids, curly and straight bobs have also been thrown into the collection as well as countless on-trend fashions and accessories.

Mattel say they are 'offering girls choices that are more reflective of the world they see today' and in particular, the 'curvy' doll is supposed to represent a more realistic ideal body image for youngsters.

With a brand new advert campaign entitled, 'Imagination comes in all shapes and sizes. That's why the world of Barbie is evolving', Mattel hopes to open up new markets that over more recent years have turned their backs on the stick thin dolls.

While I may not have realised it as a young girl, I have grown to understand the criticism of Barbie.

With research showing that children as young as eight reporting body dissatisfaction and almost 40 per cent of 14-year-old girls admitting to regular dieting, the change in something as simple as a fashion doll is well overdue.

Young girls are worried about their size and the way they look, not helped also by the images of photo-shopped women we see on a regular basis.

For young impressionable girls struggling in their youth, these unfeasibly thin female dolls can be seen as promoting unhealthy body ideals - it gives an unrealistic idea of what the female body should look like.

We know children are affected from a young age by the images around them, so to embrace these new different body types has to be welcomed - it's time something changed.

The updated dolls are intended to better reflect the diversity of the audience and appeal to the shifting expectations of today's society.

While it may be hard to change society's perceptions, we all have a responsibility to youngsters to reflect a broader view of beauty.

We need to start from a young age in equipping young people with tools to address body image by building self-esteem and encouraging them to embrace diversity and ultimately feel happy with who they are.

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Competition

Made in Liverpool, the leading Beatles tribute band, will be appearing at The Europa Hotel in Belfast on April 30 and you have a chance to win a pair of tickets.

Unlike other Beatles tributes, 'Made in Liverpool' are resident in the very place where pop/rock history's greatest band were discovered and were the first Beatles tribute band to play the iconic venue when it re-opened.

They are mentioned in music writer and Merseybeat historian Spencer Leigh's book, The Cavern, The Most Famous Club in the World.

Born and bred in Liverpool the band perform to audiences world-wide and like John, Paul, George and Ringo, Made in Liverpool are all Liverpudlians and naturally sound like The Beatles.

Their shows attract a regular following from Beatles fans with recent performances as far afield as Russia, US, Australia, Switzerland and the Far East.

Tickets for Made in Liverpool concert are available from The Europa Reception on 02890 271066 or from ticketmaster.ie and www.irishtourtickets.com

I have four pairs of tickets to give away so if you fancy winning, simply email your name, address and telephone number – along with the answer to the question below – to competitions@irishnews.com

Closing date for entries is Tuesday, April 26 at noon.

(Q) Name the Belfast hotel where Made in Liverpool are playing on April 30?

Normal Irish News Rules Apply

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Competition winners

The winners of last week's Nathan Carter concert ticket competition are Kelly Clifford from Newtownabbey and Bertie Holmes from Carrickfergus.

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What's Hot!

Pandora - The new season collection is out capturing the beauty of the changing seasons with its stunning hand-finished jewellery. Among the pieces are beautiful Forget Me Not dangle earrings. Prices start at £25.

Rockers - Status Quo will play at the SSE Arena on October 28 as part of their Last Night of the Electrics tour. The legendary band said it will their last ever 'full-on electrics' tour. Tickets are on sale from today.

What's Not!

Claims - Things appear to be turning nasty between Cheryl Fernandez-Versini and ex Jean Bernar after claims the former Girls Aloud singer had been unfaithful during their marriage with her new boyfriend, Liam Payne.

Moving on - Laurence Fox, best known as starring in the TV series Lewis, has begun moving out of the family home he shared with actress wife Billie Piper. The couple announced they had split after eight years of marriage.

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Easy Peasy Recipe

This week's Easy Peasy Recipe is white chocolate pots.

You will need:

250g white chocolate

200g Greek yoghurt

250ml whipping cream

1 tablespoon white rum

Chocolate curls or cocoa powder for decoration

To make:

Melt the white chocolate until smooth for a total of 3 minutes in the microwave (stirring occasionally) or over a pan of hot water.

Whip the cream until stiff.

Stir in the melted chocolate.

Add the rum and finally the yoghurt.

Mix until completely blended together and pour into small glass dishes or fancy coffee cups.

Chill for at least 3 hours before serving.

Sprinkle hot chocolate powder or use a peeler to get milk or dark chocolate curls from a solid bar.

Do you have an Easy Peasy recipe you would like to share?

Are you the queen of quiches, magnificent at muffins or can you turn out some nice scones?

If so, then we want to hear from you.

You can send your name, address, contact number and recipe (plus photo if possible) to:

Easy Peasy Recipes,

Suzanne McGonagle,

Irish News

113-117 Donegall Street,

Belfast,

BT1 2GE

or

s.mcgonagle@irishnews.com

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