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Exploring Body Image Issues Via The Barbie Doll

2763 words - 11 pages

Picture yourself as the ‘perfect’ woman. Embodying every woman’s dream. You are undeniably gorgeous, weighing in at 100 pounds, standing 6 feet tall and holding nearly 150 careers ( Yes, this is the beloved, ever so ‘inspirational’ childhood toy, the perfectly perfect Barbie Doll. Barbie is America’s most beloved toy, considering young girls between the ages of three and eleven own at least 10 Barbie’s throughout their childhood (‘Life in Plastic’). As creator of the Barbie Doll once said, “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that through the doll, the little girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented that a woman has choices,” (Handler). However, Barbie has proved to serve the opposite effect and these ‘choices’ are growing slimmer and slimmer with increased exposure to this popular doll. The ‘Barbie Syndrome’ is an undeniable culprit of girls’ inherent desire to strive for perfection. Barbie’s unattainable beauty, multitude of different careers, and extreme lack of diversity has lead to overall negative effects within women in today’s society. Consequences include ceaseless desire to be perfect, perceived limitations on future careers, and overall lower rates of self-esteem.
Since Barbie’s debut in 1959 she has been influencing young girls and swaying their perceptions of beauty when in reality her body, measuring 39-18-33 (bust, waist, hips) is unable to bear a child, she would be incapable of holding up her own back and neck and she is so disproportioned she would need to crawl on all fours (Slayen). Despite popular belief, maybe it is beginning to seem as if Barbie is not so perfect after all. However that has not stopped young girls from admiring their Barbie Dolls perfection, and in turn establishing Barbie as a role model, and body inspiration in the early stages of their lives.
The Barbie Dolls stature is one that is often admired by most young women. Unfortunately, it also is highly unattainable and instills unrealistic goals in girls’ minds. According to the National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, there are up to 24 million people suffering from eating disorders and 86% of those are under the age of 20 ( That being said, negative adverse effects are often the results of our world placing the upmost importance on body image. At Radboud University, Doeschka Anschutz and Rutger Engels conducted an experiment designed to test the effects of playing with thin dolls on body image and food intake in 6-10 year old girls. After splitting the girls into three different groups where they either played with a thin doll, an average sized doll or a slightly oversized doll, as seen in figure one, the results yielded that indeed there were significant differences between the girls’ body image and food intake which was completely dependent on which doll they played with (Anschutz, Engels 625). For example, a girl that played with the thinnest doll, the Barbie Doll, consumed...

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