The Barbie Doll Effect

November 3, 2007
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A little girl gets a Barbie doll for her birthday. She spends many happy hours brushing its hair, and changing its clothes. It is a normal Barbie, white, with blond hair, blue eyes, and the perfect figure. The girl’s parents don’t think twice about this glossy perfection, reasoning that it’s okay, because it makes their daughter happy. Yet, the girl isn’t white, or blond, and her figure isn’t perfect. Nobody thinks that this is a problem. As the girl grows, however, she is bombarded with images of other women who are like Barbie. She sees nothing but an image of perfection that she can never attain.

What started with a simple Barbie doll becomes something much greater. In recent years, visible minorities have been purposefully placed in the media to appear more politically correct. However, the majority of women that young people aspire to be have one thing in common with the Barbie dolls of our youth. They are impossibly thin, and are marketed to us as “perfect”. The media isn’t entirely to blame, but that is where the majority of the fault lies. How many main characters of television shows are overweight? How often are people who are not apparently flawless used for advertisements?

The answer to these questions shows how focused we are on how people look on the outside. It is not like we flash a bold neon sign saying ‘if you’re ugly, you won’t be happy’. This message is sent in more subtle, and often more damaging ways. Young girls who are especially impressionable will see women who are stick thin, they will think that this is the only way to gain success. Intelligence isn’t what society concentrates on anymore. Girls of younger and younger ages are being shown that being sexy is the only way to get what you want. Personally, when I see 5 year olds singing songs like “My Humps” wearing navel baring shirts and dancing provocatively, I get a little worried. What worries me even more is that lately that’s become a very common sight.

I’m not saying that the media is the source of all evil and they are to blame for this troubling phenomenon. That would make this problem too easy to eliminate. Yes, the media promotes the messages of ‘thin is in’ and ‘sex sells’, but we are the ones buying the magazines, and watching the shows. It is not only television shows or magazines that make young girls feel fat, or ugly. Their parents and friends reinforce this message unintentionally by praising skinny over sexualized super stars. This does a lot of damage to the self esteem of certain girls, because they can never become like the Barbie dolls they played with when they were younger. There is of course Doctor Barbie, and entrepreneur Barbie, and lawyer Barbie, but they all look exactly the same. It is time to realize that no one can really look like a Barbie doll, and start playing with trucks instead.

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RandomThoughtfulDude said...
Dec. 9, 2013 at 11:57 pm
Hmm...I don't see why playing with trucks can prevent the images of fashion they see as they get older. The barbie is an excellent example of this "Perfect Model" Idea, but this is a much bigger problem that deals with commercial aspects, movies, and ads, like you mentioned. 5 starred that one, great arguement! Just that ending part....
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