When I was young, my mother banned Barbies from my collection of toys. I could play with any other doll I wanted, but the Barbie was off-limits and I never understood why. I found myself taking rebellious measures, playing with the illicit figurine at my friends’ houses, admiring their big hair, slender bodies, and big chests as well as their over-large, heavily painted eyes and perfect smiles. They were beautiful dolls and like a bird attracted to shiny objects, my child-mind wanted these dolls, wanted to be like these dolls. My mother is a perceptive woman and she understood the danger of presenting her young daughter with such an idealized and over-sexed toy.
Recently, the Barbie has been given a critical thrashing for the widespread anorexia that has plagued young girls who want to be just as skinny and perfect as the ideal that has been forced upon them at such a young age. The argument against it has become so pervasive that it has become almost common so I do not want to focus on the Barbie as my topic. Rather, I would like to focus on the new version of the Barbie that has become very popular not among young girls, but among women in their teens and early twenties. This new Barbie is the “Instagram Diva”.
As social media is the toy of young women, idealized pictures of girls have taken over the internet. There are Instagram accounts that feature the perfect sexy girl, like Oldrow, a college account geared toward frat boys, which shows us image upon image of big butts barely covered by a lacey thong or bikini bottom, unrealistic, balloon-sized breasts, and waists that are impossibly non-existent, all on the same girl as if this could be a realistic body. Perfectly shaped white teeth and fake lashes are essential to every model, and to an average young woman who owns an Instagram account, I am assaulted daily by this kind of ideal. We average young women look in the mirror every morning, measure our pooch and imperfect skin and our floppy sleep hair, and feel as if the universe has been playing a joke on us. Physically, we aren’t perfect and instead of embracing that, social media forces us to become constantly self-conscious. This is destructive to our body-image and dangerous to our self-worth. Girls begin to download editing apps that will clear their skin, whiten their teeth, and even photoshop their bodies so they too can look more like an Instagram Diva, and so the whole social media world becomes a lie. We young women feed into this lie and take on a livelihood of falseness, distancing ourselves from reality and ultimately becoming Barbies in one big game.