I stumbled upon this transformation of Heidi Montag today… and she was quoted she wanted to look like Barbie. It made me sick, especially when I think about having a daughter… What in this world happened?! For those about to read this Valley Girl, it is a bit different this week. I dare say I went on a bit of a rant but the research is done and the facts are here….
Girls have the image of the flawless physique of Barbie engrained in their minds at a very young age. Yet, Barbie was not always Malibu Barbie, prancing around in a bikini. Barbie started out as slim but sophisticated and revolutionized into a sex symbol.
There are many aspects of a girl’s life that are at stake because of this “perfect physique.” This unrealistic image results in an early sexualization of children before they can process what sexuality is and long before they have a “chance to discover and explore their own sexuality.” Girls will start to believe they must go to any length to achieve these desired looks. By acquiring these looks through painful procedures like liposuction, breast implants, and other media propagated products; girls think looks are more essential than being smart. The media sets a precedent that a girl must be pretty to be popular, this is the ultimate goal, and therefore setting the standard by which girls forever believe they must live by.
Barbie was unveiled in 1959 by the creator Ruth Handler. Handler’s motive for creating Barbie was to inspire little girls to think about what they wanted to be with they grew up. Handler wanted to prefect the doll, Bild Lilli, which was a German doll. Handler loved that Lilli “was a working girl who knew what she wanted and was not above using men to get it.” Unfortunately, the evolution of Barbie’s “no man policy” is has diminished. Barbie today emphasizes that looks are essential to obtaining a man. Toys R’ Us has buttons you press on Barbie that states, “Ken will love this (very provocative, black) dress!”
This “Teen-age Fashion Model” Barbie appearance has been changed many times. In the 1960’s, the style Barbie took was the sophistication of trendsetter Jackie Kennedy. As the time has progressed, Barbie has become bendable, long blonde hair, bigger breasts, bigger waist and bigger eyes. Most notably in 1971 when the doll’s eyes were adjusted to look forwards rather than sideways. Again in 1977, Barbie again underwent a major face sculpting change. Today, the doll does not take on sophisticated trendsetters but skimpy tanks tops and mini skirts.
These sexy trends promoted by the $1.7 billion Barbie industry today, has resulted in not only girls wearing sexually suggestive clothes but spreading to toddlers. Girls see what Barbie wears and imitates her. Little girls look up to Barbie as a role model, so when they see her wearing short shorts, they quickly buy the most “microscopic” pair they can find. The sexualization of Barbie can cause little girls to want to be “hot” as well. This concept can be harmful to a child’s emotional development because they are not equipped psychologically to interpret the sexual behavior.
Barbie’s beautiful figure is truly unrealistic because critics have agreed that for a woman to have Barbie’s body, she would need to be 7 feet 2 inches tall, weigh 115-130 pounds, and have 30 to 36 inch hips, an 18- to 23-inch waist and a 38 to 48 inch bust. Additionally, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. These statistics prove that Barbie’s body is impossible to achieve.
Galia Slayen, a student, presents the iconic doll’s proportionals in a provocative new context.
In Slayen’s hands, the “iconic blond plaything has morphed into a life-size representation of what an eating disorder looks like. Four years ago, Slayen, then a student at Lincoln High School in Portland, Ore., built what she believed to be a life-size version of the doll she played with as a child as part of the first National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.” The Barbie is made of “wood, chicken wire and papier mache, and is dressed in a size 00 skirt that was a remnant from Slayen’s one-year bout with anorexia. “I’m not blaming Barbie [for my illness] — she’s one small factor, an environmental factor,” Slayen says. “I’m blond and blue-eyed and I figured that was what I was supposed to look like. She was my idol. It impacted the way I looked at myself.” “As a pop-cultural icon, Barbie is often used as art to express one’s own personal opinions and views,” a Mattel spokesperson said in an email. “Girls see female body images everywhere today and it’s critical that parents and caregivers provide perspective on what they are seeing. It’s important to remember that Barbie is a doll who stands 11.5 inches tall and weighs 7.25 ounces — she was never modeled on the proportions of a real person.”
Since, Barbie is said to promote this unrealistic idea of body image for a girl, this leads to a risk that girls who attempt to emulate her will become anorexic. Girls will think that being skinny is the only way to look, and go to any lengths to achieve “perfection.” The lengths girls will go aspire to be skinny can be catastrophic to their health. Heidi Montag, from “The Hills” is a perfect example of how she thought she could achieve the perfect body. She had 10 plastic surgery procedures in one day!
More than half of girls are, or think they should be on diets. Two out of 10 year old girls think they need to be skinner. Their reasoning behind this idea is formulated from media propagated products, like Barbie and Bratz Dolls. Each of these girls have said that they want to lose all or some of the forty pounds that females naturally gain between 8 to 14, and 3% become anorexic or bulimic. Theses diseases will follow a person their whole life if they are not treated properly. Eating disorders are truly dangerous and looking skinny is not worth the sacrifice of health.
Media has installed that being cuter is more important than being smarter so a Barbie is sold every two seconds, and little girls help companies by buying $100 billion in products a year to achieve this “Playboy Bunny” look.
Although many people agree that these concepts are degrading, they still conform to it because the principle that “sexiness is the ultimate accolade,” is taught at a young age and the Barbie image continues to repeat it today. History has not repeated itself. The concept of flawlessness has not come back “into style” it has evolved to another level of crudeness.
Barbie has progressed through the centuries to demonstrate an unrealistic body image that encourages weight loss, plastic surgery and low self-esteem issues.