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.

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 136 comments. Post your own now!

Sarahhhhhhh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm


Plagarism is disgusting. 

Alright I'm done. 

Hey... replied...
Jan. 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm
are u mad?
DoingMyBest said...
Oct. 25, 2011 at 1:46 pm
Harvard is NUMBER 2 worldwide. Cambridge is #1.
Meghan said...
Oct. 19, 2011 at 1:18 am
I guess I'll be in the minority when saying that I really didn't think this was a very good essay. While the theme was interesting, it wasn't exactly extraordinary. If you "sail into Brown," hopefully your other credentials are high, because this essay isn't top notch. The analogy is much too abstract, and it seems like you simply used it to get a chance to list your resume in case they forgot to read your application. I only really enjoyed the last paragraph, and it seemed a little contradictor... (more »)
Jessica G. replied...
Nov. 13, 2011 at 4:55 pm
I agree so much that it seems like the writer of the article wanted to brag just a little more about how oh so nature-loving and accomplished they are. In my opinion, the essay seemed kind of fake, but maybe that's the cynic in me.
doom.doom.doom.911 replied...
Apr. 27, 2012 at 9:02 am
meghan, if you think that analogies are too abstract, then obviously you shouldnt be reading this because your reading level or whatever is dnagerously low for the rest of us to be dealing with.
angie said...
Oct. 18, 2011 at 10:56 am
Your essay is very well written. However, I've read that essay in the book '100 Successful College Application Essay' and I would say your essay is more than 'inspired' by that one. You open with the same introduction and link same things. Well written, but it's a rip-off... Be more original.
Kelso1093 said...
Oct. 12, 2011 at 8:52 pm
Wow, this essay was extremely well written! It made me laugh throughout the whole thing, and I love how you tied everything up in the last paragraph, relating the barbie to you. I don't care what anyone else says about this, I thought it was absolutely brilliant and I wish you the best of luck of getting into Brown!
you filthy liar said...
Oct. 12, 2011 at 6:32 pm
you ripped this essay off! you'll fit in perfectly at brown.
JBowley96 said...
Oct. 11, 2011 at 10:02 am
I really enjoy this essay's word choice, it creates wonderfully vivid imagery and really puts you into the story.
Josie<3 said...
Oct. 10, 2011 at 10:46 pm
I really liked this essay. Great job. :)
English said...
Oct. 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm

I think this is plagarized. yes? no? You be the judge... in the book "100 Successful College Application Essays" edited by the staff at The Harvard Independent, Jamie Metzl's essay to Brown University's first paragraph reads: "I do not have a father on the alumni board of Brown, I don't even have an uncle there. All right, I was not elected to the presidency of soem huge, national corporation. I can't (if you promise to keep it a secret) tell you of my Olympic trial in the javelin throw. (Pro... (more »)

mimi replied...
Oct. 10, 2011 at 12:07 am
I'd say it is inspired.
Sarahhhhhhh This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 7, 2011 at 7:42 pm
Congrats honey, you blew your chances at Brown. I'd bet money that EVERY SINGLE admissions counselor has read the essay book you plagarized from. They'll recoognize the premise and introduction in a heartbeat. Writing a mediocre essay is better than stealing someone else's. With this kind of thing, I doubt you'll get in anywhere. 
doom.doom.doom.911 replied...
Apr. 27, 2012 at 9:05 am
there is such a thing as writecheck (it checks plagerism) so if she plagerized, it wouldnt have been allowed to be posted. get a clue you guys!
A_Journey replied...
Jun. 12, 2012 at 2:28 pm
doom, writecheck checks to see if any of the words/phrases were copied, not ideas. in this case, the idea was copied, but not in the exact wording. 
strawberryblonde said...
Sept. 22, 2011 at 6:33 pm
If you didn't get into brown then I will legally change my name to john stamos.
marcus said...
Sept. 7, 2011 at 8:54 am
this is over 800 words, shouldn´t the essay be only 500 words tops?
BARBIE-GIRL replied...
Sept. 14, 2011 at 1:51 pm
wow. this was just awful. you know nothing about real barbies do you? you clearly arent a true B-A-R-B-I-E barbie girl. i would be suprised if you got into brown.
Harvard replied...
Oct. 1, 2011 at 9:24 pm
seriously? I'm college admissions officer at a top ranked school and this is one of the best essays I have ever read.
BullShit replied...
Oct. 12, 2011 at 6:34 pm
Yeah, well I'm an admissions officer at an even more highly rated school and I think its phony bs.
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