April 11, 2013 at 2:33 PM ET
I was a bit of a Barbie fanatic as a kid. I adored playing with the golden-haired beauty and her (strangely identical-looking) buddies, loved collecting their gear and dressing them in fabulous outfits and jamming their pointy feet into ridiculous shoes.
Back then, of course, our moms weren't worried about irreparably messing up our body images or setting impossible physical standards. They gave us the dolls because we begged for them and because they knew that if they gave them to us, we would shut up and let them watch Days of Our Lives.
By the time I became a mom myself, the world had become decidedly divided into two camps: pro-Barbie and anti-Barbie. (She's a doctor with a yacht! Yeah, and if she were real she'd topple over!) I wondered briefly if I should ban the buxom plastic babe from my house, ultimately deciding that if my daughters' collective self-esteem was so fragile that a doll could shatter it, I'd already have screwed up so massively that having or not having Barbies around probably wouldn't make much of a difference.
While my daughters were allowed to have the dolls, in an ironic twist they never really got into them. Because of that, I hadn’t given Babs much thought lately. She popped up on my radar this week after seeing artist Nickolay Lamm's digital reproduction of her without makeup—and with braces and actual facial countours—made the internet rounds.
Buzzfeed posted digital images of several other popular dolls, including Bratz and Cinderella, also stripped of their hot pink lips and spidery lashes they found on the blog. The consensus? They all look perfectly fine—often better—in the unpainted state. The question of course becomes: Would kids still want to play with them? My guess is yes. But it's up to Mattel and the other makers to give girls that option.
Me, I'm still waiting for Cellulite Barbie to make her debut. Now that's a doll I'd buy.
Jenna McCarthy is an internationally published writer, TED speaker and the author of five books including If It Was Easy They'd Call the Whole Damn Thing a Honeymoon: Living with and Loving the TV-Addicted, Sex-Obsessed, Not-so-handy Man You Married (Berkley Books, 2011). Find her at JennaMcCarthy.com.
A version of this story originally appeared on iVillage.