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Better Barbie This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category.

By
I don’t have any alumni ties to Brown, though it’s possible I could be the long-lost granddaughter of James S. Miller. Never have I sailed the Pacific Ocean on the back of a humpback whale, nor can I wrap sushi with the skill of former Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto. I haven’t done much research regarding podiatry, and chances are I will never win the Michigan Mega-Millions lottery. I am, however, the proud owner of a Little Mermaid Edition Barbie.

At some point in almost every little girl’s life, she becomes engrossed in the Pepto-Bismol-pink world of Barbies, a place I entered at the age of seven. My sister, Hannah, and I decided to take our collection of 11-inch plastic friends for a dip in the pool one sweltering summer day. Hours of giggling resulted from tossing the Barbies as high as we could into the air and watching them dive gracefully into the waves. Three … two … one, I launched my Little Mermaid doll in the same fashion as Apollo 11. We watched her rocket into the sky. I glanced at my sister, who was scrambling through her scorecards to make sure she had the well-deserved “10” ready. My eyes returned upward, anticipating the gymnastic stunts Barbie would undoubtedly deliver to her enraptured audience. Where was she? The crowd was growing restless. Had she landed on the moon?

Utterly bewildered, we combed through the freshly mown grass and woods, but unfortunately, our search bore no fruit. After a moment of sorrow, our tiny attention spans directed us to a different game, and our minds fluttered away.

Over the years, I encountered many of my own quirky adventures. As a field biologist intern, I camped for 15 days on an uninhabited island, purified my own water, surveyed the endangered Piping Plover, tested the water quality of lakes, and found my way out of 70,000 acres of northern Michigan wilderness. My view of the world broadened through travels and encounters with the Costa Rican, German, French, and Australian cultures. I won varsity letters, had my poetry published, and volunteered at a local hospital, and as I grew older, the mystery of the once-beloved Little Mermaid Edition Barbie faded into a misty memory.

One recent fall day, rainbow-colored leaves swirled through the air and the chilly breeze carried its pleasant scent, an amalgamation of bonfire and pumpkin. Upon the rooftop was not good Saint Nick, but rather my dad, cleaning the leaves off our house. Tied to the branch of an ancient oak tree, the tire swing moved my body in a pendulum motion. My dad approached with something dark in his hands. “Eh … does this belong to you, or Hannah?” he said with a look of perplexity painted on his face. I couldn’t believe my eyes: It was the Little Mermaid Edition Barbie! The poor girl – she was an absolute disaster. I affirmed my ownership of the traveler, and took her battered body in my hands.

Nine years had passed since I had seen the almost-world-renowned Olympic diver. I recalled that summer day and smiled as memories flooded my mind. She looked as though she’d been struck by lightning a few times, weathered heavy monsoons, and held onto the gutter for dear life during tornados. Her mangled arm appeared to have been mistaken for a worm by a ferocious momma bird. Leaves, dirt, and other debris were entwined in her once shiny, cherry locks. Her attire was tattered – she seemed to have fashioned herself a Tarzan-esque ensemble. Her ingenuity was impressive; it reminded me of an experience in which I had to craft socks out of a garbage bag and medical tape, then wear them for three days in pouring rain. Nevertheless, one thing stood out as I ogled my long-lost friend: her face.

She wore a radiant smile, a look of contentment, self-confidence, and accomplishment. With head held high and a positive attitude, she had battled life’s unexpected challenges. She knows now what it means to strive and succeed. I realized the world of pink doesn’t fit someone with so much potential, so much passion for learning, so much heart, independence, and creativity. I looked at her and saw myself reflected in her sapphire eyes.

Like her, my dreams lie far beyond those of a Stepford wife, and with the ability to bend and not break, I am ready to step out of my plastic box society, through the Van Winkle gates, and into a world of endless possibilities. I crave the works of Thoreau and Emerson, not mall directories or grocery lists. I desire adventure and the opportunity to study new cultures. I long to write what I want and voice my opinions with my whole heart behind them. And as the Little Mermaid Edition Barbie sits on my shelf, next to musical and athletic trophies, behind silly pictures of friends, and alongside books by Maya Angelou and Lewis Carroll, she reminds me of myself. For this ambitious girl, pink is not enough; she is ready to dive into Brown.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

This work has won the Teen Ink contest in its category. This piece won the May 2008 Teen Ink Nonfiction Contest.




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This article has 132 comments. Post your own!

tcallear29 said...
May 28 at 9:05 am:
What was the purpose of writing this essay?
 
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Oceanix said...
May 9 at 10:49 pm:
To be honest, you should save the random list of accomplishments for the resume ...
 
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GraceG20This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
May 3 at 8:44 pm:
amazing essay! I hope you get into Brown and it shouldn't be hard considering this essay is flawless and so are your writing skills
 
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cookie said...
Apr. 1 at 5:34 pm:
OMG, you captured and took me on a trip. I just became so happy with the various of your essay.  I really appreciate how you put this all together, you have a lot of writing talent, keep on going, its beautiful
 
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DeVaughn W. said...
Mar. 30 at 12:39 pm:
This essay is so good, I'm applying to Cornell. I hope my essay can be just as good as yours
 
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Vic-D said...
Nov. 7, 2013 at 4:04 am:
WOW!!! It's Amazing! Beautiful, well constructed, passes a good message.......I LOVE IT!
 
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dizzydreamerThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Oct. 20, 2013 at 4:35 pm:
Beautiful piece. Its extremely well written and fun to read and I love the symbolism. Great job :)
 
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knockout97 said...
Aug. 27, 2013 at 2:07 am:
I never thought a college essay could be so interesting! The way you detailed and connected everything is really good. Brown would be honored to have a writer like you :D Good luck!
 
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sammyjanee This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 18, 2013 at 10:18 am:
Love this!
 
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LeeNguyen said...
Aug. 3, 2013 at 11:12 pm:
  I love your writing style !!  
 
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heatler said...
Jul. 9, 2013 at 10:12 pm:
nice essay ...it is so meaningful
 
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WriteOrWrong said...
Jul. 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm:
Very unconventional which I admire. One criticism I have, however, is that the parts you add in about yourself feels forced at times. The piece has so much potential though. It is very colorful.
 
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kpvpink said...
Jun. 30, 2013 at 4:38 pm:
I thought it was a very well written essay. I think it was very creative and worded well. Good job!
 
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ChelseaMe said...
May 23, 2013 at 2:54 pm:
I really like what you are saying here! It's a very interesting essay, different from the norm.
 
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Asma said...
May 8, 2013 at 9:32 pm:
I thought this was an excelent essay, well don!
 
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pulledheartstring said...
Mar. 28, 2013 at 7:14 pm:
I thought this essay was mediocre, it wasn't exactly my cup of tea, but it was well written yet a little too cheesy at some points. 
 
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Deej6595 said...
Nov. 30, 2012 at 3:16 pm:
Getting ready for the future. This is a good theme. It may even inspire me to write my own Barbie story!
 
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Dignified Fallacy said...
Sept. 27, 2012 at 4:07 am:
Well, it really shouldn't matter how amazing the essay is, all the person did was correct them. this site isn't about getting praise, it's about critique and I don't think the other person said anything that was insulting or rude. 
 
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pensive said...
Sept. 23, 2012 at 8:24 pm:
Can I be honest here? I was bored. It's like you're trying to point out all your accomplishments over and over again. The thing about the Barbie felt kind of forced, too, as if the doll didn't really have much importance to you, and the whole essay was just a set up to talk about how much "potential" you have. It would feel a lot more genuine if you actually talked about yourself as a person. 
 
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maizyiscrazy said...
Aug. 10, 2012 at 7:37 pm:
So while there has been a lot of condradicting ideas about the "plagarism" of this essay, it is definitely not copied word for word. In the book "100 Successful College Application Essays," Jamie Metzl's essay to Brown has to do with a seven inch Godzilla, and the first paragraph is remarkably similiar. To be fair to the author though, this essay does have some very unique touches that do make the essay its own.
 
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