Hey there cyberspace explorers, diamondstoglass here. It doesn’t matter your gender, race, or age, most every American immediately recognizes the “perfect” and familiar face of Barbie. There have been many articles posted about the literal impossibility of Barbie’s body. Anatomically speaking, a Barbie’s proportions can not exist in real life. Not only is her head too big and her neck too long, but her legs are sticks and her feet are practically nonexistent. A woman built like Barbie would be a scientific phenomena and couldn’t even stand on her own two feet, much less walk.
The implications of Barbie’s impossibly “sexy” body, on the self esteem and body image of young girls is a relevant and important topic. However, it is a well debated issue that I feel has been thoroughly covered by many other bloggers and news organizations. An especially good point of this was made through the art of Nickolay Lamm. Above is an actual Barbie paired with Lamm’s rendering of a Barbie using the average 19-year-old’s body proportions. If you would like to learn more about this project please check out the link below from the NY Daily News, in the mean time I am moving on to the main point of this post, which I believe is an important, yet neglected, side to this subject.
Above is an image of what Barbie looks like with and without makeup. While Barbie without makeup is certainly less glamourous and sexy than her rosy counterpart, she is still stunning. This probably has something to do with the fact she is crafted to be perfectly symmetrical, with absolutely no blemishes, and maintains a flawless complexion with eyes that are way bigger than any actual human being’s. These key attributes can be found in any doll, however Barbie continues to be way more sexy that her Cabbage Patch counterparts. And then we get to this wholly more realistic before-and-after rendering of Barbie. This one seems to take a bit more inspiration from the before and after photos you see of supermodels. If the circles under her eyes don’t do it for you, check out those roots! While this may be a bit extreme, I certainly feel it makes a point about the sort of expectations young girls are growing up with.
I’m not saying that they should start making Barbies with puffy eyes and uneven faces, even that may be a bit much. However, when your typical 6-year-old dreams of being a grown up with makeup and purses and manicures, wouldn’t it be better not to have her aspiring to be like Barbie. Take a closer look, Barbie has got it all: the hot boyfriend, a massive rack, legs that go a mile, every accessory on the face of the earth, enough clothes to fill an olympic pool, a hot pink corvette, and don’t forget the 20 pounds of foundation, lipstick, and mascara. It’s no wonder the more recent generations are growing up beauty obsessed and crazy consumers when they have spent the past 10 years asking for clothing, cars, accessories, and homes for their plastic counterparts.
Barbie is unrealistic in so many ways, however makeup is a very real thing. Girls should be learning to love themselves and be comfortable in their own skin, but instead their role models are 11.5 inch tall, chunks of plastic with more clothes than brain cells. And thus to attain these unachievable standards, girls turn to the things they can control. Just like Barbie, the makeup never comes off, eating disorders have been, and continue to be, on the rise, and boob jobs are growing to possibly become one of the most popular graduation gifts for girls. Now, I doubt the Barbie franchise is going anywhere anytime soon, her and Ken are too well embedded in our culture. However, before people jump to criticize the morals and values of new generations springing up, take a moment to think about how the toys of today may have a different impact than the Lincoln Logs and Tinker Toys of yesterday. With this awareness, hopefully the changes we spread now will benefit the world of tomorrow.
Until next time, stay terribly beautiful.