Barbie Girls in a Barbie World

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My last semester at FHU, I wrote a 12-page paper for my Advanced Composition class on the influence of Barbie dolls on young girls of America. As a disclaimer, let me just say that I’m not a fanatic and I’m not personally condemning mothers who buy Barbie dolls for their daughters. I, myself, was a huge Barbie fan as a little girl. For the sake of an A on my paper, however, I was passionate in my arguments against the little blonde beauty that’s revolutionized toys in America. When I did my research, I was shocked at just how influential the things our children play with and the things they see on TV can be.

Something you may not know about Barbie:

In 2002, The New York Times published a story reporting the death of Ruth Handler (inventor of Barbie). In the article, Sarah Kershaw wrote that “if the 11 1/2-inch doll were 5-foot-6, her measurements would be 39 [chest]-21 [waist]-33 [hips].” In fact, according to Kershaw, “one academic expert calculated that a woman’s chances of having Barbie’s figure were less than 1 in 100,000.” With such unrealistic proportions, it seems doubtful that a real person with such a gigantic upper region supported by such a tiny waist and little hips would be able to stand up without topping over because of the excess upper-body weight. Barbie, with her numerous careers, would have to spend every workday on all fours were she a real person—and you thought heels made it hard to walk around all day.

…and this is just the tip of the iceberg about sweet little Barbie.

We live in a society that screams at our youths the beauty of materialism rather than the beauty of simple gratitude and the importance of outward appearance rather than the importance of character, honor, and integrity. Children feel pressured to fit a certain mold that the media tells them will equal success, but that mold has little to do with the qualities that will truly make them happy, successful adults. Instead, they are taught to love things and not people, to love a good hairstyle more than a pure heart, and to favor fashion, movies, and pop music over intelligence, scholarship, and responsibility. Parents blame celebrities like Britney Spears and Lady Gaga who so easily infiltrate the minds of our children, but how often can the problem stem directly from what most parents are giving children right in their very own homes?

What the toy stores won’t tell you are stories like that of Cindy Jackson, who holds the Guinness World Record for having more cosmetic procedures than anyone else in the world. She told reporters recently,  “I looked at a Barbie doll when I was six and said, “This is what I want to look like.” In effort to reach her goal of looking like Barbie, Jackson has had 31 plastic surgery operations and spent over $100,000.

During this study of Barbie Doll’s affect over youths, I couldn’t help but think about how God responds to women who will pull out all the stops and spend any amount of money just to appear physically attractive, which, admittedly, our culture has deemed the most important quality a woman can have. In 100 years, how will Cindy Jackson’s perfect body look? Well, let’s just say it won’t be anything worth the money she’s spending now. Why not? Because everything on this earth–everything that you can touch with your hands—is perishable. One day, everything we can see right now will burn up (II Peter 3:10).

My body doesn’t belong to me. Everything I am and everything I have belongs to Him. My body will turn to dust one day. What will remain forever, however, is my soul. Living for God doesn’t just affect my life on earth (which by the way, will be abundant if spent in His light, according to John 10:10). Living for God affects my eternity, a concept that’s difficult for any of us to grasp. Godliness and faith are imperishable, meaning they will never die. If I spend more time focusing on maintaining my soul’s appearance before God than my outward appearance before men, I will be doing well.

“Do not let your adorning be external—the braiding of hair and the putting on of gold jewelry, or the clothing you wear— but let your adorning bethe hidden person of the heart with the imperishable beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which in God’s sight is very precious.” –I Peter 3:3-4