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You're Such a Doll

Barbie has been in the news for a long time, maintaining celebrity status for over fifty years. Yet in spite of her age, not a wrinkle has formed on her face. With her continual smile, glossy blond locks, sparkling blue eyes and size two waistline, it is no wonder she attracted such a boyfriend as Ken. The couple remained together for years; touring the United States in their various RV's, cruise ships, ponies and sports cars. (Of course, Barbie is also enormously wealthy.)

As the envy of many girls, Barbie has not only become a celebrity but an icon to which women have aspired. Saying a girl “looks like Barbie” is a compliment. However, a groundbreaking 1997 edition of Health magazine concluded that appeasing the Barbie image is impossible for most women. The magazine revealed the average woman as about 5'4" and weighing approximately 145 pounds. On the other hand, Barbie's thin figure consists of being a tall 6'0" and weighing in at only 101 pounds.

Above: Barbie vs. Average Woman (Click for larger image.)

It doesn't require a Ph.D to notice she is grossly underweight and possibly victim of an eating disorder. The same year Health published its article, Barbie experienced plastic surgery, resulting in a slightly expanded waist.

However noble the attempt to "reform" Barbie's body, a re-molding of the doll cannot change the way women think. It’s a fact: human beings are fools for beauty, especially women. We want the admiration that comes with being considered beautiful, no matter the cost. As mirrors look on tauntingly, some women have resorted to damaging their bodies with excessive diet pills, purging, and even starvation. Studies indicate that seven million American women have an eating disorder, and 95% of those who have eating disorders are between the ages of twelve and twenty-five. Half of girls between the ages of eleven and thirteen consider themselves overweight, and 80% of thirteen year olds have tried to lose weight. Beauty is serious business.

And yet despite its influence on women, beauty is not a solid thing. America’s obsession with skinny is only a recent addition to a standard of beauty which has evolved throughout the decades. For example, actresses of the 1940's and 50's sported neon red lipstick. It was classy. It was sophisticated. The fad was given a decent burial in the 1960's as a new idea of "beauty" was pursued.

Above: A vintage magazine (featuring 1930's and 40's movie star, Claudette Colbert) contrasts to the perception of beauty featured on a modern magazine cover.

Our perception of beauty fluctuates. As a result, we will not be cured by a new Barbie. Our view of beauty cannot merely be given a makeover. It must be revolutionized. In order to discover lastly, timeless beauty, we must cut down to its very definition.


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I love this! I've been doing a true beauty series on my blog too. I especially like the magazine cover comparison you did. It's so true that our standards of beauty fluctuate. Placing our confidence in measuring ourselves against culture's standard is so unhealthy.

Excellent article. The image comparing figures of the average woman and the doll are really eye-opening! Thanks for exposing the grip that superficial beauty has on our society, and pointing out how fickle modern "standards" are. Looking forward to the next installment!


This is so very, very good! Thanks so much for sharing. I love the research put into this and the simple facts layed out straight. Couldn't agree with you more!

"Our perception of beauty fluctuates. As a result, we will not be cured by a new Barbie. Our view of beauty cannot merely be given a makeover. It must be revolutionized. In order to discover lastly, timeless beauty, we must cut down to its very definition."

How very true. In Elizabethan England, women with dark skin and hair were considered ugly and uncouth, whereas fair skin and hair were feminine ideals (i.e., Halle Berry wouldn't have stood a chance!).

I'm looking forward to part 2 of this post. I certainly know that my initial perceptions of both men and women can change after I get to know their true nature better. If a woman considered classically beautiful is proud and sobbish, I begin to really see her in a different way. Whereas if a somewhat plainer-looking woman (physically) has a pure and lovely personality, I also see her differently--but, unlike the first kind of lady, she improves in my eyes.

What a great post! Now if we could get all young women everywhere to read this and see the heart of the matter, then it would be quite world changing! Unfortunately, the world has bought the lie of physical beauty being what matters and they strive for it in every aspect in life. We can do our part to help girls see the faulty thinking with this. I'm all for that! I may link to this if that's okay!


You hit the nail on the head! The pressures that our society places on women to be "skinny" is more than anyone can bear! I look forward to reading part II!!! thanks again, you really have a gift for writing and making it clear and concise for the reader! Blessings in Christ, Angela :-)

Excellent post! WE need, need, need to drill it in to our daughters brains that skinny (an unnatural skinny) does not equal beautiful!!! Mman looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart! Thanks for this much needed wake up call!

Very insightful! Fantastic post! Very well written! This area needs to be address so much in all of our lives. We should no longer be slaves to the world's view of beauty or even our ideas of beauty..

Thanks for sharing this.

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