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The Barbie Effect

Imagine your perfect woman. 6 Feet tall, weighs 100 pounds, and her sizes are 39-19-33. And a bonus, she’ll never get pregnant. Every mans dream. Yes, we are talking about the most beloved doll of all time, the beautiful and perfect, Barbie.

This children’s toy was first debut in 1959, and she was the ideal role model for all girls, or so it seemed. She was perfectly skinny, had a perfect boyfriend and family, perfect hair, perfect house, perfectly… perfect. Yet how was this perfect doll impacting the millions of young girls who were playing with her?

The average girl from ages 3-11 owns at least 10 Barbie dolls and spends hours playing with them and dressing them up. And the more time anyone spends time with anything, the more influence it has on them. So this perfect doll has not had the best impact on young girls. Of course Barbie has had many good role model jobs such as a teacher or a vet, but what was her first job? A super skinny teenage fashion model, and no matter what the job, she’s kept that look that makes most every girl jealous.

There are more pressures on girls then ever before about the proper way to look and act and dress. And they feel the need to fit in and that the only way that they can fit in is by looking acting and dressing that certain way. Of course, Barbie is always there to start these trends. So when these young girls are playing with their brand new Barbie doll, their brain is registering everything about that doll. How popular and perfect she is, and so naturally these girls are beginning to want to be just like Barbie, happy and perfect all the time, which starts many of them on their way to eating disorders.

It’s estimated that 8 million people in the United States has an eating disorder, and only 10-15% of them are male. Which leaves the 85- 90% of them to be female. And 80% of those females are under the age of 20. Many admitting that they started worrying about their weight when they were between the age of 4 and six years old. That is around the age that a girl usually gets her first Barbie doll, and many of the girls who have or had an eating disorder admitted that Barbie played a huge role on their influences in behavior and looks. And that they were led to believe that the only way to be happy and have a wonderful life is to be just like Barbie, with the super skinny look.

In 1965 Mattel came out with a “Slumber Party Barbie” that came complete with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 pounds. The doll also came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight. And inside this book it gave the advice: “Don’t Eat”. The matching Ken doll also came with slumber party accessories, but his were milk and cookies, sending a very different message about body image and weight for different genders. Of course, after this doll came out the company’s sales dropped drastically and so they came out and said that they would try to give Barbie a more “real” look, and her sales went back up.

Of course, it’s not all about the weight. Barbie is also known for her perfect looks. Hair, makeup, clothes, the works. These also lead girls to spending hours globbing on makeup, destroying their hair with dye and straighteners and curling irons, and begging their parents for clothes from the most expensive and popular stores to try to achieve this perfect look.

Some of the older, and richer, women also spend thousands of dollars trying to achieve this “perfect” look. Including plastic surgery, face lifts, and having a professional stylist for every day.

One such woman is named Sarah Burge and she’s from the UK. She spent over 1 million dollars just to achieve that Barbie look. Being the perfect example of how Barbie has hurt women everywhere. Her story started like every other girl who goes through this, since she was young she was taught that in order to be beautiful, you had to have the perfect hair, clothes and makeup. The older she got, the more convinced of this she was. Somewhere along the line, she decided to blow thousands of dollars trying to get this ideal look. She claims now that she has so much more confidence and that women everywhere would be smart to go through this, because “it’s okay for women to be someone they’re not.” Just another one of Barbie’s wonderful lessons. And every year she spends thousand more on her “maintenance” to keep this look up.

She is teaching young girls everywhere exactly what Barbie is teaching them, in order to be fabulous, you have to be perfect.

Barbie also brings about another thing that she makes young girls lust for, the material objects. I know that when I was little, I wanted the Barbie dream house so bad. And that list kept growing, the pink car, the swimming pool, even to the Barbie mall.

Barbie has many material objects that make her life seem totally perfect, and with every new job she gets, the more stuff she gets.

There have been people spending millions of dollars just to have their houses look like Barbie’s. Complete with swimming pools, chandeliers in the bathrooms, and the Barbie logo plastered all over the walls.

Or there’s Paris Hilton, with her wonderful Barbie car, as the media has called it. She has the pink car that would probably even make Barbie jealous. Her 200,000 dollar car came from the childhood dream, like most young girls, to have a car just like Barbie’s.

Overall, Barbie does not have the best effect on young girls, and that later carries on through the rest of their life. Barbie’s effect has caused bankruptcy, low self esteem, and eating disorders. Leading to death. This beautiful doll gives a whole new meaning to the phrase “if looks could kill.” Thank you.

Join the Discussion

This article has 45 comments. Post your own now!

forever_ally said...
today at 10:33 am
i understand where you are coming from but do you really think barbie is the cause for all of this? Eating disorders are something that a lot of young women and girls go through and its not just because of a barbie doll they played with when they were little...look at media! all they teach people now a days is that you have to have money, have to look good, and have to have all these things when not all those things are possible to a regular person in the world. yes barbie does not help with sh... (more »)
PoppyTheLion said...
Sep. 19 at 10:58 am
This is just over reacting. Most of the little girls love to play with them and do the barbies hair. I never thought once to be like them. Plus you only name grown women who has the barbie effect
truth.forever3 said...
Aug. 31 at 11:32 am
I really loved and enjoyed this article. Great Job! I can totally relate. Do you have a blog that I could read? Your Writings are really good. Also would you be interested in writing in my magazine? visit:
TEenagergirl said...
Jun. 12 at 3:06 pm
Wow. I 100% agree with this. I'm doing a project on how Barbie's effect teenage girls.
Coolman said...
Jun. 4 at 11:19 pm
Paranoia is a worrying issue especially when you get a buzz from it. Is this a cannibis addiction?
steph94 said...
Apr. 19 at 10:43 am
Was going to use this for my research paper, might still do but there is no year of when this was written so I am unsure about the studies shown of the amount of people in america with eating disorders, so i have nothing to back that studies up. If a year is provided it would be great.
Milli Roberts said...
Mar. 30 at 6:02 pm
Pure BS, it's just the work of the PARENTS to TEACH every kid whats good for them and whats not, so the same goes to whats real and whats not, i mean barbie it's just a doll so its fictional, you can't blame a doll on what goes wrong with families and society, but anyway its just an opinion ;)
My point of view said...
Mar. 23 at 8:31 pm
While I understand your points and can agree with some, I do not believe Barbie will have this kind of effect on young girls as long as you explain to them and help them to understand that she is just a doll and not real. My sisters and I love Barbies and had too many to count growing up and we just played with them and made up scenarios for fun without worrying about looking like her or being her. We used to make our Barbies "go to prom" or "on a date", but really all we did was make them take ... (more »)
Wolfey1997 said...
Mar. 8 at 11:22 am
I really love this piece. At our school we have to act out a piece between 3 and five minutes long. It is a huge deal at our school and is worth half our grade in Literature for the quarter. I chose this as my piece. At the beginning I stated who wrote it. I got 100% perrcent on it and I may move on to a round where I preform infront of the school. Thank you so much for writing this,
SarenDipity replied...
Mar. 23 at 7:53 pm
Wow thank you so much! That really means so much to me!
sassyunicorn said...
Feb. 12 at 3:37 pm
Super interesting, you did good research!
purplepanda84 said...
Dec. 28, 2014 at 2:04 pm
I totally agree with this! Good job stating the facts.... your a really good writer!
houston said...
Dec. 25, 2014 at 8:14 am
interesting and real
bbq21 said...
Dec. 15, 2014 at 1:52 pm
thats verry interpropriate 
stoner4lyfe said...
Sept. 10, 2014 at 12:57 pm
say no to bulimia and yes to marijuana #420
Jackies63 said...
Jul. 3, 2014 at 1:52 am
You did an amazing job tying in facts, about eating disorders and their causes, with something we can all relate to. Amazing article that really helped me trace back to the time that the negativity started.
Snickers said...
Jun. 24, 2014 at 5:27 pm
Hello Miss Bennett. I am writing on research paper about Barbie and I need to give you credit in my works cited page. When was this article published on Teen Ink?
ilovebbqribs said...
Jun. 11, 2014 at 10:14 am
you are an amazing writer
ErriSayaka said...
Jun. 6, 2014 at 5:37 pm
I agree completely with this, I will admit that when I was younger I adored Barbie , I idolised her because I thought she was perfect and petit. Barbie had given me a fixed image of what the female body should look like ,and I just thought that anything else just wasn't pretty. In honestly not only am I dissapointed in myself for believing this , i am ashamed that this was the reality that we live in. I believe that todays generation should be taught to accept differences and that the aim is... (more »)
Colormerainbow said...
Apr. 23, 2014 at 7:54 pm
I actually idolized Barbie not because of her body but because of what she could do. I had the astronaut Barbie, the doctor Barbie, the hairdresser Barbie, and the surfer Barbie. I actually think that Barbie had a positive effect on me.
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