Amid the hype around Margot Robbie’s Barbie movie at an all-time high, the film has been released in theatres. The trailer of the movie too was showered with love as people waited in bated breath for the movie to open. This Barbie adaptation by Greta Gerwig is, therefore, a special experience for many… in fact, even Google is celebrating its release with a pink homepage and stars the moment one searches for Greta’s name. Actor-turned-humanitarian Somy Ali, who now runs her NGO, No More Tears, however, has some concerns. Read on…
“Barbie has been reigning over the minds of girls as young as four years old since 1959. When I moved to the US at the age of 9, I was given a blonde hair blue eyed Barbie doll for my birthday. To this day I vividly remember how much I could not relate to her. Her features were unlike mine and particularly her skin colour and to me, even at the age of nine, she looked fake and phoney. My concept of beauty as it is even today were and are Rekha ji, the late Smita Patil Ji, Nandita Das, and models like Seema Hari. I find all of them stunningly beautiful and in my book, that’s the epitome of beauty. When I was a little girl, I believed Rekha ji to be the most beautiful woman in the world and to this day I have the same ideology when it pertains to what is beautiful,” she says.
Somy recalls how in 2000, Barbie’s creators, due to tons of pressure, tried to change her waist-to-hip ratio to what our normal women’s bodies look like and they even made some of the dolls portraying them as doctors and career women.
“Nonetheless, I detest what they have done and are still doing to young girls’ psyche universally. It has led many girls as young as nine to develop body dysmorphic disorders such as bulimia and anorexia. These are serious disorders and I blame the makers of Barbie, bigotry, racism, and the creators assuming that this is what every child will relate to and fall in love with. Whereas, it’s the complete opposite and it’s about time they change their marketing strategy and create all shapes and sizes including skin colors to show our children that they belong. Their message has been the complete opposite and has been for years isolating several young girls leading them to depression and starvation so they can fit the societal norm of what is beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, I think someone like Jennifer Aniston to be absolutely gorgeous as I do Gwyneth Paltrow, however when it comes to Barbie what they are doing is lethal for our children as our personalities develop by the age of nine,” she adds.
The former actor shares how one of her journalist friends just saw the movie and was appalled as she left the theatre. From that friend, she came to know that the press was handed a gift bag that consisted of skin whitening cream and cleaning supplies sending the same old message they were sending in 1959.
“Hence, nothing has changed and the concept of beauty remains to be light-skinned and the role of women is to scrub floors and stay in the kitchen. I find this disgusting and appalling that there have been no changes in countless years with the message the Barbie creators are sending to our youth. It’s like the tobacco industry, we all know that smoking kills and so do the people who distribute cigarettes and manufacture them. But in spite of many lawsuits filed against them by families of people who have died due to lung cancer, the tobacco industry keeps winning and keeps on selling to its addicts,” she sounds disturbed.
Concluding, Somy adds, “It’s all about money and since the masses are white in the US, Barbie creators cater to them which is nothing, but blatant discrimination. I think letters to the creators and awareness of the damage they are causing to our children is necessary. However, I do not believe things will change rapidly, similarly to how long it takes for people to comprehend the damage caused by the consumption of tobacco.”