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.

jessxlalala said...
on Sep. 25 2010 at 2:55 pm
This was amazing, I'm reading through a few essays to spark some ideas for my essays and I'm so happy I came across this one.  Outstanding job

on Sep. 20 2010 at 5:34 am
SmritiBansal SILVER, Noida, Other
7 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
Most of our lives are a series of images, they pass us by like towns on a highway. Sometimes a moment stuns us as it happens and we know that this instant is more than a fleeting image. We know that this moment, every part of it, will live on forever

I loved this essay.

I loved how you've said so much through a simple metaphor. 

on Aug. 2 2010 at 12:20 am
Rina-with-a-k SILVER, Fayetteville, North Carolina
7 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
Be the change you wish to see in the world.

Yes, it might be a little strange, but that's the point. It's a different view on things, while still having meaning to it and still showing accomplishments she's made. That's what makes it good.

asdfsd said...
on Jul. 29 2010 at 8:47 pm
this essay did not seem to stand out to me, i dont know what the rest of you are thinking. there are some good points, but the metaphor of the barbie is too trite in my opinion

on Jul. 29 2010 at 10:50 am
inksplatters21 SILVER, Mason, Ohio
6 articles 0 photos 84 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Character is how you live when no one is watching."

awesome work, cool story.  would people mind reading/commenting on my work?  thank you--it's appreciated


on Jul. 23 2010 at 7:26 am
DifferentTeen PLATINUM, Seaford, Delaware
32 articles 2 photos 329 comments

Favorite Quote:
"There’s no such thing as true love, just spurts of insanity—falling over and over again, thinking that won’t happen to me"

I thought that was excellent.

I know that got you into Brown.

on Jul. 7 2010 at 11:35 pm
hollyhottell DIAMOND, Redding, California
54 articles 0 photos 65 comments

Favorite Quote:
poetry is a diary written out loud

great job your a very talented writer...keep up your GREAT WORK..... i really liked this...

on Jul. 7 2010 at 4:09 pm
ThatClarinetPerson SILVER, Tequesta, Florida
8 articles 0 photos 226 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Life. Don't talk to me about life."
~Marvin the Paranoid Android (from the Hitchhiker's guide to the galaxy series)
Statistical analysis suggests that i am probably in tune with someone
(hahahahaha! I love this cause i'm never ever ever in tune >o

my comment can be summed up in one word:


on Jul. 7 2010 at 11:14 am
MercedesXO DIAMOND, South Easton, Massachusetts
52 articles 0 photos 280 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I realize that life is risks. It's acknowledging the past but looking forward. It's taking chances that we will make mistakes but believeing we all deserve to be forgiven."
-The Dead Tossed Waves.

this was incredible. strongly written and with such passion behind the words. great job on this excellent piece.

jessekuofm said...
on Jun. 29 2010 at 9:55 pm
I actually decided I wanted to go into business, so I accepted a spot in the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan (top 3 business program in the country) and couldn't be happier with my decision! Thanks for your comments and best of luck with your essay writing! :)

on Jun. 26 2010 at 2:41 pm
cantfindascreename BRONZE, Chino Hills, California
1 article 0 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in service to others"

Literally my inspiration! You write with such a strong and passionate voice, and everything just sounds so natural.  Everyday I write hoping to become as fabulous as you. Thank you for this.

on Jun. 21 2010 at 10:49 am
seraphinagreene BRONZE, Fargo, North Dakota
2 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Be the change that you wish to see in the world." ~Mahatma Gandhi

this is amazing. 

did you end up getting in to Brown? 

on Jun. 15 2010 at 5:48 pm
-alice- PLATINUM, Colorado Springs, Colorado
21 articles 0 photos 81 comments

Favorite Quote:
I care very little if I am judged by you or any other human court; indeed I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. -1 Corinthians 4:3-4

Wow, this was awesome! I'm proud to say that I am also the owner of a Little Mermaid edition Barbie, as well as Belle, Mulan, TinkerBell, Sleeping Beauty, Esmerelda, Snow White, Cinderella, Jasmine, Alice in Wonderland, and Pocahontas.  :)

on May. 25 2010 at 5:02 pm
Sophia-Lynn Ellis SILVER, Mattapoisett, Massachusetts
7 articles 0 photos 3 comments
this is one of the best college essays i  have read in a long time. i really like how you didnt keep it to the normal school kinda stuff but branched out to write about your little mermaid baby. congradulations on some astonishing work

someone said...
on May. 22 2010 at 7:23 pm
I loved it. Very well written, keep up the good work!

on May. 14 2010 at 8:47 pm
she-is-a-witch, Towson, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 33 comments


I wish I could write like that.  So intense.

kaates GOLD said...
on May. 13 2010 at 1:47 pm
kaates GOLD, Los Angeles, California
14 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's pathetic how we can't live with the things we can't understand. How we need everything labeled and explained and deconstructed."

“Give me rampant intellectualism as a coping mechanism.”

“I just don't want to die without a few scars.”

i am currently brainstorming ideas for what to write about for my college application. i want nothing more than to stray away from the dreary "and what i learned from this experience was.." and the absolutely boring "and this is why i want to go to this college". your essay was exactly what i want to achieve in mine: choosing an unlikely topic and transforming it into a true life circumstance, mixing in your passion for poetry and hunger for learning new things. excellent work; you may not have gotten into brown, but my impression of you is a very compassionate and determined person, and you should be so proud of your magnificent way of keeping the reader entertained. you're a true writer, and i am sure you are going to greatly excel in life.

liamferron said...
on May. 2 2010 at 1:53 am
liamferron, Sydney, Other
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment

This is the best college essay I have read, ever. It was so inspirational, and as I am applying to Brown in 2011, much needed. I never knew writing could be so genuine and so articulate at the same time. It puts me to shame but also gives me a lot of hope.

I really hope Brown was all those things to you; Thoreau, Emerson and everything inbetween. Just by this I know you've had a great life. Please continue to do so.

sanjana said...
on Apr. 13 2010 at 12:44 am

Was this your college application essay or did you write it after you got in?

It's really good. I love the last line where you say that you're ready to dive into Brown.

on Apr. 10 2010 at 10:04 pm
jOjOsfreakingCIRCUS GOLD, Brentwood, Tennessee
11 articles 4 photos 28 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I don't do fashion. I am fashion." -Coco Chanel

So inspirational. Congrats on getting into Brown