Barbie Has Changed
In recent times, Barbie has striven to change its image from one of unrealistic female representation to a brand that encourages female empowerment and imaginative play.
“We’ve made great strides with representation, showcasing diversity in our product line. Barbie has also stood for empowerment and equal opportunity, so sustainability is the next big pillar,” says Lisa McKnight, senior VP and global head of Barbie and dolls at Mattel.
Barbie and Empathy
In May Barbie released a video all about how children playing with dolls can help develop empathy.
Mattel describes the video: “Empathy is so important to building a better world! A recent study showed that when kids play with dolls it activates the part of the brain related to empathy. If playing with dolls can help a child develop empathy, then a doll can help change the world.”
The study referred to research at Cardiff University, the world’s first neuroscience study of doll play that showed that dolls can aid with the development of key skills: they help children understand how other people think and interact with each other.
A team of psychologists at the University monitored the brain activity of 42 girls and boys, aged between 4 and 8 years, using neuroimaging technology, as they played with a range of Barbie dolls. They found evidence that even when playing with dolls alone, children’s brains are active in similar ways to when they interact with other people.
Dr Sarah Gerson from Cardiff University’s Centre for Human Developmental Science, explains that “the areas of the brain which are responsible for empathy and social information processing – areas which help us to collaborate, cooperate and resolve conflicts – ‘lit up’ when kids played with dolls, even when playing on their own – and more than when they were playing on an electronic tablet.”
It’s great to see Barbie being used to promote empathy and imaginative play as well as committing to being more eco-friendly.