These Scars Run Deep: How Barbie Placed Unfair Expectations On Gen-Y Girls


Rewind 15 years: You’re a little girl and you’ve spent the better part of your Saturday playing with Barbie.

She drove around in her pink convertible, strolled through the Dreamhouse, fell in love with Ken and went from aerobics instructor to pilot to President all in one day.

Fast-forward a few years: That brown-eyed little girl is about to graduate college and is getting ready to navigate the real world. That once-was Barbie fan doesn’t leave the house without a swipe of concealer and a few hours spent picking the perfect outfit for a night out.

Did Barbie do this to us?

Today, the Internet swirls with claims of how our favorite plastic friend is an unrealistic, albeit iconic representation of a woman. If Barbie were real, she wouldn’t be able to lift her head; she would have to choose between eating and breathing (her choice is clear) and she’d have to walk on all fours.

Some critics have even gone so far as to blame Barbie for the anorexia epidemic that’s sweeping our nation’s youth. In short, many think Barbie is the reason our generation is so obsessed with being skinny, beautiful and all-around perfect.

Are they right?

Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.

Did Barbie ever actually eat anything? She was a McDonald’s cashier, a bakery chef and a Coca-Cola waitress, but was there even any food in the Dreamhouse?

Barbie taught us from a young age that the only curves a girl should have are in her perfectly perky breasts. So, many of us were sadly surprised the morning we woke up with love handles.

All it takes is the right pair of shoes.

If Barbie had any redeeming qualities, one is that she showed little girls how to dream big, as she took on every career under the sun. For her, the sky was the limit and gender inequalities did not exist in the workplace.

The problem was, Barbie took on her career of choice the moment she put on the perfect uniform. Barbie didn’t have to work hard to make her dreams realities.

The “perfect” life.

The car. The house. The man. The job. The clothes. Barbie had it all, including a smile on her face. However, her happiness revolved around material things and a pigeonholed version of the nuclear family.

Plus, since Ken was anatomically incorrect, how happy could she really be?

What about everyone else?

From Barbie, we learned that there’s not much more to life than being pretty, popular and wealthy. Barbie’s exterior alone excluded a large part of the population, as she showed us that perfection is white, thin, rich, able-bodied and heterosexual.

The thing I remember envying about Barbie was her hair. At 7 years old, I don’t think I realized how incredibly skinny she was or questioned how she possibly had time to pursue every career imaginable.

I’m not sure 7-year-old me really looked up to Barbie. She may not have been my role model, but I definitely would have killed to have that hair… and I still would.

Photo via We Heart It