Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Barbie Effect

From a very early age girls are taught beauty is everything.  From the time we get our first Barbie to our first tube of lipstick and even on our death beds the beauty status quo is instilled in our heads. I like to call it the Barbie effect.  Our obsession with beauty can't be harmful right? Wrong! As a society we are so focused on looking perfect or rather the lack of perfection, that we go to extreme lengths to fix what we deem ugly about ourselves. Its from these insecurities that make-up companies thrive off of.  Now don't get me wrong, I love my make-up and will continue to use it, but that love comes from ads on t.v. telling me that with a little touch of lipstick and I will be more desirable to not only men, but to society on a whole.  As you are waiting in line at the super market beauty is being subliminally shoved down your throat by the way of fashion magazines. "Simple make-up tips to catch his eye!", "Get the perfect beach bod in 2 weeks!", "How to shed those pounds and reduce the appearance cellulite!" Most of the covers feature a super hot babe with a slim and fit body and big boobs.  I mean my hell!  How can we not be completely obsessed with being perfect!?!  But, most of these girls have been digitally enhanced!

Here is a before and after of a magazine cover. She is a beautiful woman to start with, so why do they feel the need to change her? They have slimed down her already slim body, lightened her skin and hair and have gotten ride of her smile lines. By doing this they have set an unrealistic standard of what is beautiful and will ultimately damage a little girls self esteem. The whole cover is one big "Your not perfect just the way you are and we know how to play off your insecurities by telling you what needs to be fixed!" Notice the diet pill advertisement in the top left, "Skinny Pills" is in big bold print with the "Yes they work!" in bold as well, before they state in small print "But, read this first". By having the "Skinny pills, Yes they work!" in bold they subliminally play off of our already low self image and thus make you want to buy their magazine to figure out how you can make yourself skinnier.  I am not immune to this epidemic of skinny. I often find myself looking in the mirror from every which way, poking at my stomach and trying to suck it in. I try to remind myself that I am a healthy looking girl and am not fat, but in the back of my head I still feel that I am inferior to these models and even to my skinnier friends.  But, sadly enough, my skinnier friends have the exact same issues.  One friend in particular is a twig, but will still ask me from time to time if she if fat. Its very upsetting to me that we feel that way.  Now, its not only girls who are plagued with body image issues. Men are equally obsessed, but theirs are a different kind dealing with how to get more muscle and girls wont like you unless you are a stud muffin! But, as I am not a man I can't really speak from personal experience on what their body issues are. It truly makes me sad that we can't feel comfortable in our own skin and that we try so hard to obtain beauty.  In my perfect future these obsessions wouldn't exist and people would be judged based upon the beauty that comes from inside rather than the way they appeared on the outside. And hopefully by doing so we could get rid of things like anorexia and low self esteem!  A future like that would be truly wonderful!


  1. good points made, kate. i shouldn't be shocked about how much they edited that magazine cover but i am. i often see concern over body image in my classroom. the girls don't see themselves that way until another girl says something to them. sad.

  2. Have you read about this art exhibit about the Barbie standard of beauty?


  3. Jamie that makes me so sad to hear! My sister has that exact thing going on in her class as well!
    Ahab I had not heard about it before, but I found it very interesting and the art was rather amazing. Thank you for sharing it with me!