Idolizing Barbie

The Influences of Barbie, in a plastic world.

Everyone has heard of the “American Dream”, and when someone says this you automatically think white family with a white picket fence. Along with the assumption that the American Dream is obtained through a family based on white ideals I would like to specifically focus on one American idol: Barbie. Barbie is a well known American Doll that represents “perfection”. What makes Barbie so perfect? Barbie is not only tall and slim but she is able to have any occupation she likes and has all the cars and mansion that any little girl can think of. Even though we can point out all the nice materialistic things that Barbie has and all of the features that make her the “idol” of “femininity” her race is what I would like to focus on. Barbie represents the appropriate type of whiteness. She has the “appropriate” completion, facial and body features. In making this doll the idol of America what message are we sending children who own Barbie dolls and is that message something you would like your children to hear?

In Sara Ahmed’s Journal Feminist Theory she explains how whiteness itself is a category of experience making whiteness itself worldly. Through the lifelong experience of owning Barbie whiteness becomes a lived experience that can make little girls second guess their image. Little girls become accustomed to this image of Barbie and can be easily manipulated into thinking that Barbie is the only “perfect image”.

When I was younger I was also a fan of Barbie. I owned everything there is to have for Barbie and as a child I wanted to be her. There was an issue in wanting this for myself and that is she was white with blonde hair and had colored eyes. As a result as a child I remember not liking dark colored dolls and always avoided having any other types of dolls that were not Barbie. Since many other brands did make dark colored dolls.I remember one particular incident, for christmas my father gave me a MyScene doll which was another line of dolls but unlike Barbie, MyScene promoted dolls of all races. When I opened the box and I saw the doll had a dark completion I immediately freaked out and asked my dad why he had gotten me an ugly doll. Proving Sara Ahmed’s claim that “whiteness is lived as a background experience” since as young children we begin to have these ideal based on whiteness.

Its important for children to learn to be proud of where they are from and in general proud to be who they are. We constantly see movie stars getting plastic surgery in hopes to obtain this “Barbie” image but we are only adding fuel to the fire by praising this behavior. This image shows Valarie Lukyanova who is the “Human Barbie”. In an article posted by Daily News Lukyanova shames woman by calling them “ugly” and stating that lack of exercise is what makes them unable to have her Barbie completion. These media stories are the cause of low self esteem and it encourages people to go under the knife in hopes of becoming the next Barbie.

Although Barbie no longer dominates my world like it did when I was a child, I still think she has caused influences on choices that I make today or on tastes that I prefer. Having Barbie as a role model has made me desire to be more Eurocentric in the way that I dress and in my body image. I don’t like to tan, because I might be too dark and I tend to like things in general that are a part of “whiteness”. Its almost like whiteness has been implemented in me through society and its hard to walk away from it.