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Exploring Barbie: A Lesson Plan on Empowerment and Individuality

Barbie, the iconic doll, has sparked both excitement and controversy since her creation. In this lesson plan, we delve into the history of Barbie, encouraging critical thinking about gender stereotypes and body image, while also celebrating individuality. Through engaging activities and discussions, students will have the opportunity to explore the impact of Barbie on society and reflect on the importance of self-expression.

The activities included in this lesson plan are designed to facilitate group discussions, nurture creativity, and encourage students to express their individuality. From reflecting on Barbie’s influence on beauty standards to designing their own unique Barbie dolls, students will be empowered to embrace their personal interests and challenge societal expectations.

Lesson Plan: Exploring Barbie and Empowering Individuality


  • To introduce students to the history and impact of the Barbie doll
  • To encourage critical thinking about gender stereotypes and body image
  • To promote self-expression and celebrate individuality


  • Barbie dolls (optional)
  • Images of different Barbie dolls throughout history
  • Whiteboard or flip chart
  • Markers
  • Handouts with discussion questions

Warm-up (10 minutes):

yellow haired dolls in blue dress
Photo by Reshma Mallecha on Pexels.com
  1. Begin the lesson by asking students if they have ever heard of Barbie and what they know about her. Write their responses on the board.
  2. Show students images of different Barbie dolls throughout history. Discuss the changes in appearance and fashion over time.

Introduction (5 minutes):

  • Provide a brief history of Barbie, including how she was created and her impact on popular culture.
  • Explain that Barbie has often been criticized for perpetuating gender stereotypes and promoting unrealistic beauty standards.
  • Emphasize that Barbie has also evolved over time to become more inclusive and representative of different body types, ethnicities, and career choices.

Activity 1: Group Discussion (15 minutes):

  1. Divide the class into small groups.
  2. Distribute handouts with discussion questions related to Barbie’s portrayal of body image and gender stereotypes.
  3. Instruct each group to discuss the questions and come up with their own opinions and perspectives.
  4. After the discussion, encourage each group to share their thoughts with the class.

Sample discussion questions:

  • How do you think Barbie’s appearance has influenced society’s perception of beauty?
  • Do you think Barbie dolls should represent a wider range of body types and ethnicities? Why or why not?
  • How might Barbie’s career choices influence what children aspire to be?

Activity 2: Design Your Own Barbie (20 minutes):

Barbie the movie
Barbie the movie
  1. Explain to the students that they will have the opportunity to design their own Barbie doll.
  2. Provide a variety of materials such as paper, colored pencils, markers, and craft supplies.
  3. Encourage students to think creatively and design a Barbie that reflects their personal interests, hobbies, and individuality.
  4. After the activity, allow students to share their designs with the class and explain the inspiration behind their creations.

Wrap-up (10 minutes):

  • Summarize the key points discussed during the lesson.
  • Ask students to reflect on what they have learned about Barbie and its impact on society.
  • Discuss how celebrating individuality and challenging gender stereotypes can contribute to a more inclusive and accepting world.


Ask students to write a short essay reflecting on their experience designing their own Barbie and what they have learned from the lesson.

Remember, it is essential to create a safe and respectful environment during these discussions. Encourage open-mindedness, empathy, and active listening throughout the lesson.

Read Next: Barbie Movie Lesson Plan: Exploring Empowerment and Diversity

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