Barbie Says,

February 18, 2009
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As five year old Susie unwraps her various birthday gifts, her face is illuminated with excitement and glee as she prepares to open her final present: a small, slender, hot pink box. She tears open the paper and revealed is everything she has ever wanted: a beautiful, blonde Beach Barbie. Before Susie's next birthday, Barbie will most likely have a 3-story dream house to live in, a baby pink Jeep to drive, an unlimited access credit card to shop with, and a gorgeous, perfect man to marry. What little Susie doesn't know is that if her idol was a real person, she would be 6' 0", weigh 100 pounds, and wear a size four. Her measurements would be 39"/19"/33". She would probably have had to have back surgery from being so top heavy and she would not be able to menstruate. Perhaps most disturbing is the fact that media images of female beauty are unattainable for all but a very small number of women . Researchers generating a computer model of a woman with Barbie-doll proportions, for example, found that her back would be too weak to support the weight of her upper body, and her body would be too narrow to contain more than half a liver and a few centimeters of bowel. A real woman built that way would suffer from chronic diarrhea and eventually die from malnutrition. Unfortunately, Susie doesn't know this about the little, plastic body she treasures, and by the time she's eight she may try to diet or even worse she could end up with a serious eating disorder . Who will Susie turn to for advice? Barbie certainly doesn't have the problem of being too thin or fat. Her weight never changes, and is always just right.
Several years pass and Susie celebrates her sixteenth birthday with a big party. Although her Barbies have been packed away in her closet for several years now, Susie hasn't forgotten the beauty they all possessed. She begins to idolize models and celebrities. Susie doesn't realize that the average model currently weighs 23% less than the typical women in the United States . Susie doesn't realize that research has proven that exposure to images of thin, young, air-brushed female bodies is linked to depression and a loss of self-esteem . For her party, she needs to fit into a bright pink size zero dress, so she doesn't eat for three days straight. She likes the way she feels so much that she decides to start fasting frequently in order to lose weight fast. Poor Susie has lived in a society where a slender, lean body measures the worth of a woman. She rarely sees 'fat' or even average women on television or in the movies, and if they are they receive negative comments from male characters about their bodies . Susie is 5'4 and now weighs 120 pounds. When a girl in Susie's English class argues of the inequality women receive and the sexual objects they are portrayed as in commercials and advertisements , she is called by boys in her class a fat, ugly lesbian and told she should go with the flow more and stop fighting everything because 'life is too short'. Susie doesn't comment during the rest of the semester in fear of the guys' mean comments. Why didn't Barbie ever tell Susie boys would be so mean?
On Susie's 29th birthday, Scott breaks up with her over dinner because he doesn't feel the same way. Although she is breaking on the inside, Susie's exterior image remains perfect: her tan skin, long false eyelashes, and bright pink lips are stuck smiling. Later, Susie cries for two hours, unable to understand what she did to turn Scott away. She forces herself to throw up her whole dinner and convinces herself that Scott broke up with her because she was getting fat. Susie has been diagnosed with anorexia and bulimia, yet she does not trust the doctors' verdicts. She constantly has diarrhea due to her small intestines, and struggles walking. Susie weighs 95 pounds. She has lost her period, and the doctors predict she will not be able to reproduce. She decides not to eat for two weeks straight. Susie doesn't care that Scott had been seeing other girls. Susie doesn't care that Scott was grossed out by her protruding hipbones. If only Ken had broken up with Barbie, then Susie would know what to do. Alas, Barbie never got broken up with and never had to deal with heartache or any other emotion for that matter.
Susie does not have a 30th birthday. She cannot be fixed at a store. She cannot be replaced. Susie's body eats itself when she does not feed it, and complications cause her to die of malnutrition . Susie weighs 85 pounds. When Susie's many friends and few family members attend her viewing, they are delighted to see Susie looking more stunning than ever. Her beautiful blonde hair, soft tan skin, and skinny body seem to sparkle and shine. Many people comment that she resembles a doll. Susie's body lies in the hot pink box. Unfortunately a funeral Barbie does not exist, for she and Susie would be indistinguishable. Susie is everything she ever wanted to be: perfect, fake, and lifeless.





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This article has 3 comments. Post your own now!

rainewater said...
Aug. 17, 2009 at 10:57 pm
Very mature content handled with equal maturity and delivered with a catchy edge. I'm impressed. Keep writing.
 
Mollie S. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 25, 2009 at 12:21 pm
I agree with this!
 
musicgirl757 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 21, 2009 at 7:20 pm
I loved this, it spoke to be so much. It was very powerful. I've always disliked Barbie for that reason,and I hate how society does potrey eating disorders to be glamorous. Great work. I hope someday the world will think the same why you do.
 
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