Some people have skeletons in their closet. I used to have a Barbie in mine.
Most of us played with Barbie when we were little. Ahhh…remember the Dream House or the Pink Convertible? Or did you send Barbie and Ken on dates that always ended with a goodnight kiss? Fond memories or fostering unrealistic expectations? Who didn’t admire her perfect blonde locks and slim figure, always dressed to the nines. Barbie represented beauty, perfection and the ideal for young girls around the world. Right? And she still does…right?
As a recovered bulimic/anorexic and mother to a girl, the daily expectations placed in front of us by society are frightening. The numbers tell all – four out of five 10-year-olds say that they’re afraid of being fat and 42% of girls in first through third grade wish they were thinner. Half of girls aged 9 or 10 claim that they feel better about themselves when they’re dieting. What? That’s insane! Where did these young children, not even out of elementary school, learn to dread being overweight? At a time when they should be able to enjoy their childhood, what’s making them worry so much about dieting and being thin?
Somehow these young girls have been taught that they need to diet, before they can even spell the word. The anxieties they experience are the product of a society and media culture that prizes a thin image for women above anything else, and devalues any woman who strays outside the false “norm” of a skinny body. In pursuit of that unattainable goal, they are literally starving themselves to death – dying to be like Barbie.
After a bit of research, I discovered these “Get Real, Barbie” stats:
• There are two Barbie dolls sold every second in the world.
• The target market for Barbie doll sales is young girls ages 3-12 years of age.
• A girl usually has her first Barbie by age 3, and collects a total of seven dolls during her childhood.
• If Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe.
• Barbie calls this a “full figure” and likes her weight at 110 lbs.
• At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
• If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
• Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” with directions inside stating simply “Don’t eat.”
Ugh! After reading that who’s heart wouldn’t be breaking for all the little girls in this world. And even more so, who wouldn’t dread the day that any female decides beauty on the outside is more valuable than beauty from within.
My struggle was too long…too hard…too much. But I learned, after 26 years, thank goodness. And today, with my body experiencing reactions outside the norm, it is more important than ever to accept myself unconditionally…loving me for who I am and not how I look…comfortable in my imperfections…being unapologetically me. And, if you are reading this, I encourage you to do the same.
Barbie will never have “C” nor will she experience radiation therapy, chemotherapy or any physical ailments for that matter. She won’t have joint pain or neuropathy so those pink heels will always be worn. Barbie won’t lose her golden locks (unless you cut them) nor her eyebrows. Barbie GI Jane? Bloated or constipated? Never!
Maybe Mattel needs a new doll – one that we can all relate to. Not with a scale or diet book. Maybe with a pixie cut or ombre color. Or how about a size 7 shoe or 27” waist. Better yet…one that rocks some biceps!
I still have skeletons in my closest (don’t we all?). But Barbie no longer holds a place. I’ve replaced her with an action figure – a warrior for female empowerment, love and peace. One that represents passion and beauty firing from within – a super hero for us all.
And this holiday season, while Barbie is no longer on the list, our Santa plans to leave a special doll under the tree for Gia. And who might that be? Well…none other than Wonder Woman!