Want to Look Like Barbie

This image shows a plus size model posing with a Barbie doll, marked with lines that one would typically see on a plastic surgery patient. This image depicts Cooley’s theory of the looking glass self, which states that individuals shape themselves based on how they appear to others. In general, people model because they are told they are attractive by societal standards. However, this model is holding a Barbie doll (which fits very well into Marcuse’s idea of culture industry and false needs) while posing with lines all over her body showing where her problem areas are. Society tells us that we need to look like a Barbie doll, so this model is showing the change she would make to be “approved” and accepted by society and look like the ideal woman (or a Barbie).

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7 thoughts on “Want to Look Like Barbie

  1. I think this picture is a wonderful example of how society has created unrealistic standards of beauty that seem to cause women everywhere to struggle with their identity as they assume that because they don’t look like Barbie, they are not beautiful. It is really sad that these social norms are put in place, and it makes me wonder if the producers of such things like Barbie ever considered the effect their dolls would have on the body image perceptions of women all around the world. Here is an article that a friend of mine wrote in high school about how Barbie would look if she was real: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/galia-slayen/the-scary-reality-of-a-re_b_845239.html Obviously, growing up thinking Barbie is the norm can only have a negative effect on the perceptions of oneself.

    • These are totally unrealistic standards of beauty, because even the skinniest of girls want to strive to look like this plastic factory-made doll. I just think this image is a great example of how even a model, who is put into the industry because of her attractive looks, has these insecurities of not being attractive to these “Barbie” standards that Mattel, intentionally or unintentionally, created. I believe that Barbie was created for girls to be able to dress up this statuesque figure in beautiful clothes and decide/create for themselves what “beauty” and fashion are. I don’t think that Mattel blatantly created this to skew a society’s perception of beauty, but at the same time, Barbie has been out for almost 60 years now, and Mattel hasn’t come out with a more full-figured Barbie or one that isn’t unrealistically small. Yes, they have come out with racially diverse Barbie and Ken dolls, but self-perception (especially with weight and looks) is a huge issue in today’s society, so maybe if little girls were playing with a more full-figured doll that still had the same beautiful clothes and accessories, they would think it is okay to love themselves for the way they are, big or small.

  2. I read this article too! I thought it was interesting that women like this model were willing to say that looking like Barbie is unattainable. The article said that there are women, however, that do strive to look like Barbie and will go through as many plastic surgeries as it takes in order to attain her look. When I read this, I also thought of Weber’s ideal types, since no one can actually look like Barbie- she is an abstraction. I think that it’s sad that women think that in order to be beautiful that they must look like Barbie. I’m glad women like this model stood up to say that beauty can come in many forms- not just a plastic one.

  3. While it is true that women are aware that looking like Barbie is unattainable and unrealistic, this doesn’t stop them from aspiring to be beautiful, in the way that media and society dictate. It is really alarming that for the 60 years or so that Barbie has been around, young girls everywhere have been socialized into accepting that the only version of beauty that they should aim for and obsess about follows this formula: to be thin, white, tall and have perfect skin and facial features.

    However, the honest truth is that vast majority of young girls do not have these attributes,and knowing this makes them inferior and insecure. As a result, they end up spending large sums of money just to get cosmetic surgery, going on crash diets that are putting them at risk, or photoshopping themselves to get their ideal look. Once they start doing any of these things at a young age, they will just keep on doing it until they are satisfied. The sad part is that satisfaction is translated not by self-approval but instead by societal approval.Thus, this institutionalization of beauty puts forth impossible and unnecessary strains on young girls, who should be focusing on enjoying life and adulthood rather than concerning themselves with such superficial matters.

  4. I agree that striving to look like Barbie is virtually impossible and not healthy for any girl or woman. And it is sad that women are taught to believe that Barbie=beautiful form such a young age. I also agree that other items and ideas enforce this idea of having to be a size 0 to be beautiful, such as the modeling industry or the culture industry in general. While I do believe that girls are taught to believe that Barbie is beautiful I do not think they are taught that you MUST look like Barbie to be beautiful. There are people and dolls that do look closer to a realistic person such as the brand of dolls called American girls and glee actress Amber Riley who proves that you don’t need to look like the typical barbie to be beautiful and successful.

  5. How awesome would it be if a rival company started to produce new “Barbie” models, but instead of having these unrealistic expectations of a busty, anorexic, white, “flawless” girl, they produced models that were both men and women of different races, young and healthy, but realistically proportioned? Then the responsibility would fall on the parents to buy these new, more realistic models and teach their children attainable, healthy goals. It’s crazy to think about how much a simple change in a toy’s design could significantly reduce anorexia, eating disorders, and amount of cosmetic surgery, but I think it would actually have a significant impact in our crazy consumer society we live in.

    In the world of technology that we now live in, I think it is so important for parents to try and install firm beliefs that much of what you see on TV, on the internet, and the news is not realistic, especially for body images of young girls. It is impossible to truly shelter your child from all the negative stereotypes, unrealistic ideals, and confusing paradigms the media constantly shoves in our face, but that is why it is crucial for young children to understand much of what we see is falsified. It is a scary world we live in and the technological age we live in already is and will continue to have a major impact on how future generations think and prioritize their goals and beliefs. As future parents, we need to remember we are the ones who set the lifelong standards of our children.

  6. Barbie is not the problem in our society, society is our problem. Barbie dolls were made by Mattel because little girls want to be beautiful, so it makes sense they would want to play with dolls that are pretty. Why blame a toy for the way society pressures girls to be thin? Look at the cover of any magazine and you’ll see some new weight loss secret. Look at celebrities and how we put them down for gaining weight. Go to any high school cafeteria and listen in on conversations. When a heavier person walks by, most teens will make a snide comment about them. One toy is not to blame for the way our society is, society is to blame for how our toys are made. Look at a Bratz doll. The head is largely unproportional and completely unrealistic with their stick-thin bodies.

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