I Resent Barbie   Leave a comment

Yesterday, Shelva wrote about the issues of body image that Barbie brings up for her and her concerns about raising children in a world where Barbie is part of the standard of beauty and where people lament a Barbie who looks like an actual woman – pink hair, tattoos, and all.  I wholeheartedly agree with my friend Shelva – Barbie has done me some damage.

I had Barbies as a kid, and while at a young age I didn’t think anything of them (besides that they bored me and didn’t really provide much entertainment, at least not as much as books), I certainly grew up to internalize the standard of beauty that Barbie represents.  Tiny waist, big boobs, shapely legs, and great hair.  I also internalized that beautiful meant you had perfect skin and stylish clothes.  My parents didn’t teach me that, and by herself, Barbie didn’t teach me that either.

But the truth is that by the time I was 11 or so, I already knew that I was not beautiful in the way American society judged beauty. I had terrible skin, big thighs, crazy hair, and I wore glasses, and  much to my dismay, there was nothing I could do about that – at least nothing I could do to make myself look the way society said I SHOULD – not could  but SHOULD as a woman of value.

As an adult, I have learned – at least intellectually – that beauty is internal and my continuing acne, my encroaching gray hair, and my still larger than I’d like thighs do not take away from my beauty.  On good days, all of me believes that. But most days, I still want to look like Barbie – thinner, blonder, and with those feet that naturally fit into heels.

But as an adult, I have also learned that I am beautiful in more ways than physical ones – my intellect, my writing, my compassion, my ability to make a great cup of coffee – these are the places where I find my beauty.

It’s just too bad that I didn’t grow up believing and knowing I was beautiful. It’s a shame that I had to learn to find my beauty – that I lost it somewhere along the way with all those Barbie dolls.   It’s a shame any girl has to learn that lesson.


Posted October 28, 2011 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Aging, Life Lessons, Our Bodies, Parenting

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