The other day I heard and saw a commercial that startled me. The commercial started describing someone who is a girl’s best friend, her support, and always there for her. At first, I thought this was going to be an inspiring message, reminding me of the importance of my mom and the women I look up to. However, to my utter horror, their answer was an object. BARBIE!
Shopping this past Black Friday, I was again startled at the Barbie dolls lining the shopping aisles at the stores. They all appeared anorexic and wore skimpy outfits. At eye level of little girls, to me these Barbie dolls were telling all the little girls who saw them that if they want to be pretty, they have to look, dress, and act like them.
This, as well as the Barbie movies I have grown up with, has gotten me thinking. There are many women I look up to, and they are all beautiful to me, nevertheless, NONE of them look like Barbie. But is that really the ideal for any of us? To look like Barbie? Girls look to Barbie as a role model.
Barbie is not real. She’s an image the media is trying to sell as “perfect” beauty, yet only 8 people OUT OF 3 BILLION people on this earth look anything like her! Using percentages, that is less than 0.000000002% of all the people in the world. How can that small percentage be the standard for all beauty?! Almost NO ONE looks like her, yet advertisers, magazines, and the media bomb girls with the deceptive messages, clearly trying to convince them that they can only be beautiful if they are thin — trying to sell them that they have to look like “Barbie.” Do we have to have a certain color of hair, be a certain weight, or be a certain size to be considered “beautiful”? Society pressures all of us into believing that we can only be beautiful if we are “xyz,” yet this xyz isn’t safe or reliable.
Some other interesting facts I found on Barbie (through Google) include:
- Barbie’s body would have room for only half of a liver and only a few inches of intestines, as opposed to the usual 26 feet. This would result in chronic diarrhea and death from malabsorption of nutrients and malnutrition.
- Barbie’s neck is twice as long as the average human’s which would make it impossible to hold up her head.
- If a woman had the same measurements as Barbie, she would not have enough body fat to both menstruate nor bear children.
“In 1965, Slumber Party Barbie came … with a set of pink bathroom scales, permanently set to a rather scrawny 110lbs (50kg), and a diet book instructing her on how to lose weight, with just one instruction: ‘DON’T EAT!’” (Source)
It’s not only Barbie dolls – it is only one little portion of the issue. Many other girl toys could be argued to have the same issue, which could include Bratz, Monster High dolls, Lalaloopsy, Polly Pockets, and perhaps even the Disney Pixi-Hollow Fairies. In a study conducted by a European hospital, the researchers considered mannequins from different decades, and even mannequins are dangerously thin. While female mannequins from the 5o’s had measurements that would allow for menstruation (if they were real people), modern day mannequins utilized today would not have enough body fat to menstruate. (source)What are we teaching our children? Is this really what we want our girls to think is the “perfect” body? Four out of every five 10-year-old girls are afraid of being “fat.” Forty-two percent of 3rd Grade children report they want to be thinner. (source) This scares me.
Furthermore, some young adults look to fashion models as their “figure of health” and strive with all their might to become and look just like them. Some take it to dire extremes. Magazines like to feature images of very thin models, and unfortunately many of these models go to dangerous limits to stay skinny. These kinds of habits can lead to eating disorders.
Many girls feel they have to look a certain way and fit a certain set “model” to have any beauty and be of any worth.
Many of the “plus-size” models wear sizes 6-12, which do not reflect the average costumer size, since most plus-size stores don’t even carry sizes below a 14 (source). Since when was a size 6 or 8 plus-sized? Is the media reducing the size of “plus” in order for us to focus on unreal expectations of thinness? Why do we even have to use the words “plus-sized” to describe sizes above 14?
The scale, our dress size, and the models’ runway photos don’t portray the whole and true picture. Images are photo-shopped. Commercials are biased. Listen to the voice inside you. Stay in-tuned with yourself and how you feel. Regardless of how the media and advertising might try to make us feel insignificant, we are more than sexual objects–their play-things–their sources of mere profit. We are beautiful. We are loved. We are divine. We can make a difference.
Let’s begin with one little step. Let’s change our focus away from the lies magazines and TV ads to the potential we have as women and individuals. One little pebble can make one big ripple.
That one compliment, that one smile, that one pebble — we can change the way girls see themselves and help them see themselves for who they truly are. We can change the course of history.
Do you think Barbie is the ideal role model for young girls?
With lots of hugs,
If you want to read more on this subject, here are a few other articles I found interesting.