Barbie, but a little bit different

What was the first thought that came into your mind when you saw this image? Take a few seconds to record it. Was it positive, negative, neutral? Did it have an emotional element: satisfaction, sadness or pleasure? Did it come as a shock? Maybe there was a a flinch of recognition? My reaction was ‘Wow’.
The image has brought with it some interesting responses. A quick internet search identifies reactions ranging from disgust to admiration. I think people like and dislike it for the same reason: because it challenges our ideas about women and ageing.
It may be weird to see a doll that doesn’t age looking middle-aged but I like the idea of Barbie’s appearance changing as she gets older. I expect it was created to celebrate Barbie’s 50th year (in 2009) yet I don’t think the manufacturer had anything to do with it!
The iconic Barbie has come in for some criticism over the years, most notably for her unrealistically proportioned body. But bravo to Barbie the 50 year old for daring to be different.
*Thanks to the Centre for Women, Ageing and Media (WAM) and Portal de Envelhecimento for introducing me to this image.

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  1. She looks more peaceful than tired which is just what one can hope to feel at 50. My advice to Barbie: “Don’t look back. The best is yet to come.”

    • That’s great advice. Also, I think this Barbie veers towards the glamorous side of 50, as evidenced by her grey hair being smooth and glossy. Wonder what her body would be like if they had aged that as well?

  2. It would be interesting to find out who created her. It would also be interesting to have people guess her age, and see how people perceive age.

    • Yes I agree. I’ve tried to find out who created the image but haven’t been successful. I’d like to find out more about the background to the image as well as credit the designer. Wouldn’t it be great to ask people to put an age to this Barbie. Maybe it’s something that can be done via Twitter?

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