I was only a year old when my Grandmother gave me the newest doll to hit the markets of that time. She had long legs, a tiny waist, ample bust line, a delicate face and was dressed in the latest fashion. She was perfect. Even her name was cute. My fashion doll followed me through life until I was in my late 30’s where she was misplaced in a box which was later lost. But, I still remember fondly my perfect fashion doll.
It would be many years later when I realized that this doll was more than a doll and how I perceived myself was based on this idea of beauty. At 5’6” I was never tall enough. My blond hair was never long enough, my Norwegian thighs never small enough, and the butterfly pattern freckles were splotches of imperfection across my high cheek bones. They say I was pretty back then, but all I ever saw was imperfection.
This obsession with how I thought I should look followed me through my mid 40’s and then something hit. I questioned myself, “When was it going to end? When would I be happy with just being me?”
As a fitness trainer for 25 years, I witnessed the same obsession from young girls who were the spitting image of perfection. My heart grew heavy with each girl I tried to counsel, pointing out that they were in fact the perfection of youth. But they, like my steps before them, walked away unconvinced.
It was through studies of memory and how the brain records patterns that I found the seed leading to the chain of body discontent. What our girls play with does make a difference in how they perceive themselves. They record the patterns of the body dimensions and applied character behaviors of their doll friends. Television’s animated figures become a teacher of norms thus creating ambitions. These perfect forms of animated princesses are set as a goal—anything less is imperfect.
Today our stores are filled with dolls emulating fashioned dead people with green or purple skin and mini skirts. Other fashion dolls have oversized lips, exaggerated eyes and tiny bodies. All in fun right? Or is it? I write because I’m concerned. Where is the representation of a normal form or a valued centered life? How do we build healthy minds and bodies when the original recording is based on unrealistic impressions of femininity and questionable values?
Via E is working hard to create a new line of toys that can help build a healthy mental pattern of self while reinforcing traditional family values. We create these toys not to build shareholder wealth like the major toy companies, but to build the emotional wealth of our children so they may grow to be all that they wish to be—and more.
Look for the announcement of our new toy product line in November 2012.