When we were little girls, most of us had at least two major female role models: Our moms and our Barbie doll. And although we end up growing up to look much more like our mothers, our grandmothers, or our aunts, there's something about Barbie -- in all of her hot pink glossy blonde glory -- that somehow manages to make a greater impression on our psyche.
Even if it's way way way in the back of our heads, as adult women, we still believe that tall, thin, blonde, and busty is the beauty ideal. Hey, maybe it's because the fashion, media, entertainment worlds buy into that ideal more times than not. (Not all the time, but often.) That belief can manifest in our lives in a bevy of ways -- from lamenting the occasional fat day or frequent fat talk to full-on eating disorders.
Recognizing this, one young woman named Galia Slayen decided to face her "Barbie issues" head-on ...
Having struggled with anorexia as a teen, the now college sophomore built a real-life Barbie to illustrate the warped, negative body image the doll promotes. Slayen explained:
I dressed Barbie in my old clothes. The skirt she still has on today is a reminder of who I once was. That skirt, a size double zero, used to slip off my waist when I was struggling with anorexia. I put it on Barbie to serve as a reminder that the way Barbie looks, the way I once looked, is not healthy and is not "normal," whatever normal might mean.
Joining with the National Eating Disorders Association, Slayen is spreading awareness about the scary reality behind taking Barbie too seriously. We've all heard that given her measurements, Barbie would have to walk on all fours, but here are some other "Get Real Barbie" stats the NEDA shares that I found particularly startling:
• A girl usually has her first Barbie by age 3, and collects a total of seven dolls during her childhood.
• At 5'9" tall and weighing 110 pounds, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
• Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 pounds and a book entitled How to Lose Weight with directions inside stating simply: "Don't eat."
This info doesn't make me feel like if I have a daughter one day, I'd never allow her to have a Barbie. And I don't believe having one results in battling an eating disorder. But I do think it's interesting to recognize the conscious or subconscious impact the doll has or had on most American women's body image at some point in time. Because if one stinkin' plastic doll can haunt us all the way into adulthood, it can't hurt to have a reality check like the one Slayen is offering.
What do you think about Slayen's real-life Barbie? Do you think the doll promotes a negative body image for women?
Image via Richard Newton/Flickr