Since the 60s, nearly every girl is, at a very young age, exposed to an image of flawlessness, happiness, and beauty. More often than not, they are taught or idolize this iconic figure. This embodiment of perfection is one of the first messages of its type that are sent out to the young females of this world; and from there it doesn’t stop. I am, of course, talking about Barbie.
Since she first appeared on the market in 1959, Barbie has been an iconic figure, promoting the image of the upper class white female as the perfect image. Although many companions of various genders, ages, and nationalities joined Barbie, she is still portrayed as the leader, the perfect ideal to which all young girls should aspire to be.
Though originally intended to promote the idea in girls that they can have whatever career they want, regardless of gender, I think, overall, she may have left a much different impression.
There have been many articles showing how ridiculous Barbie is as a physical role model for girls due to the fact that her proportions are inhuman and would look bizarre if a real woman were to have them. But because she has emblazed this idea of perfection in our minds, she has made girls try to live up to this unrealistic expectation of flawlessness.
Some other ideas that, whether intended or not, underlie this product are vanity, sexism, and misogyny.
I don’t know if these ideas where planted by the companies that produce Barbie, but they have had some devastating and terrifying effects. Because no girl is ever going to naturally be able to live up to that image, physically, it can cause these low self esteem in girls. Expecting them to—or at least want to—look like that, a completely unattainable goal, can, in extreme cases cause body dysmorphic disorder.
Girls may never be happy with themselves and the way they look, no matter how skinny they get, how tall they look, how perfect their hair is, how perfect their breasts are, or how many surgeries they get.
One woman, a 49-year-old British woman named Sarah Burge has dubbed herself a “Real Life Barbie” after spending over $800,000 on more than 100 cosmetic surgeries, each one, in her eyes, bringing her closer and closer to the image of perfection.