Better Barbie | Teen Ink

Better Barbie MAG

By Anonymous

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.

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This article has 139 comments.

on Oct. 7 2020 at 1:11 pm
emilyzhongemz BRONZE, Dallas, Texas
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Favorite Quote:
"I really hope they held you down I really hope it was no lying, Cause my heart breaks it feels like the world's gone."

gosh this is amazing

on Apr. 3 2019 at 12:56 pm
aleidance06 BRONZE, Mumbai, Other
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Favorite Quote:
all magic comes with a price

what a great usage of character developement!

on Nov. 29 2018 at 11:53 am
Dani_Higareda PLATINUM, Hanahan, South Carolina
20 articles 0 photos 109 comments

Favorite Quote:
“People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.”
- Winnie the Pooh

Wow! I love how you use a simple toy like a Barbie to express such a profound emotion. Great job on your article:)

on Jun. 14 2016 at 9:41 pm
ambivalent SILVER, West Bend, Wisconsin
7 articles 0 photos 180 comments

Favorite Quote:
everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. the worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt. [sylvia plath]

Does anyone know if Jesse got into Brown?

on Sep. 2 2015 at 10:28 pm
KayeIsWriting SILVER, Oxford, Alabama
9 articles 0 photos 43 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself!" - Franklin Roosevelt

This is great. It makes me think of the tattered doll after flying up in the air and you camping to there waiting for her to come back. Gloriously written, @Jesse K.

on Oct. 31 2014 at 10:01 am
EmilytheBelleofA. DIAMOND, Athens, Georgia
81 articles 5 photos 1486 comments

Favorite Quote:
To love is to be vulnerable; Triumph is born out of struggle; We notice shadows most when they stand alone in the midst of overwhelming light.

This is absolutely, amazing and phenomenal. I love that you used something simple and dear, to make it go deeper into with depth. Haha, if that makes sense. This just has a lot of depth. meaning, beauty and talent. I know this was a long time ago, but congrats on having the Nonfiction contest and having this published! You truly deserve it. You have such a talent and greatness and light in you; and you are an amazing and wonderful, talented writer and person. It's true. :) Thank you so much, my friend, for sharing this! :)

SuzieQ777 GOLD said...
on Oct. 22 2014 at 10:11 am
SuzieQ777 GOLD, Franklin, Virginia
15 articles 0 photos 37 comments

Favorite Quote:
"La Vida Es Bella"

This was amazing. You made a simple story of losing your Barbie doll, into something I would never in a million years would have thought of. Amazing Job, I hope you got into Brown!

tcallear29 said...
on May. 28 2014 at 9:05 am
What was the purpose of writing this essay?

Oceanix said...
on May. 9 2014 at 10:49 pm
Oceanix, Union City, California
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Keep on moving forward." - Walt Disney

To be honest, you should save the random list of accomplishments for the resume ...

gboo12 SILVER said...
on May. 3 2014 at 8:44 pm
gboo12 SILVER, Bergen County, New Jersey
6 articles 0 photos 18 comments
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

cookie said...
on Apr. 1 2014 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

Warrior97 said...
on Mar. 30 2014 at 12:39 pm
Warrior97, Cincinnati, Ohio
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
This essay is so good, I'm applying to Cornell. I hope my essay can be just as good as yours

Vic-D said...
on Nov. 7 2013 at 4:04 am
WOW!!! It's Amazing! Beautiful, well constructed, passes a good message.......I LOVE IT!

on Oct. 20 2013 at 4:35 pm
eatclouds BRONZE, Alexandria, Indiana
4 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
Writing is a form of therapy; sometimes I wonder how all those who do not write, compose or paint can manage to escape the madness, melancholia, the panic and fear which is inherent in a human situation. -Graham Green

Beautiful piece. Its extremely well written and fun to read and I love the symbolism. Great job :)

knockout97 said...
on Aug. 27 2013 at 2:07 am
knockout97, Montclair, New Jersey
0 articles 0 photos 2 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The cause endures, the hope still lives and the dream shall never die." ~Edward M. Kennedy

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!

on Aug. 18 2013 at 10:18 am
sammyjanee GOLD, Plantsville, Connecticut
12 articles 1 photo 15 comments
Love this!

on Aug. 3 2013 at 11:12 pm
LeeNguyen BRONZE, Hanoi, Other
1 article 0 photos 1 comment
  I love your writing style !!  

heatler said...
on Jul. 9 2013 at 10:12 pm
nice essay is so meaningful

on Jul. 1 2013 at 3:38 pm
WriteOrWrong BRONZE, Grosse Pointe, Michigan
3 articles 0 photos 105 comments

Favorite Quote:
Sometimes you just need to take a nap and get over it. -Maura Stuard

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.

kpvpink said...
on 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!