When asked to think of the perfect body type, most women unconsciously describe the image of a typical Barbie doll. However, when asked if Barbie’s body is the “ideal” body type, these same people automatically reject this notion. This phenomenon is caused by our society’s manipulation and obsession with Barbie’s body. From getting plastic surgery and developing eating disorders to simply wearing makeup, women are constantly striving to achieve this perfect body. Multiple organizations across the country are trying to erase this idea, however, their efforts are only exasperating the issue. A new innovative doll called the Normal Barbie was recently released by its creator, Nickolay Lamm, to make a more realistic example for young girls. Despite Lamm’s efforts to change society’s view of body types, this doll is still allowing society to obsess over how people should look and is still not addressing the real problem at hand.
A person’s individuality is compromised by society’s obsession over how the “ideal” person should appear. By having the original Barbie doll or the new Normal Barbie give us a visual representation of how we should look, they are giving us subliminal messages on how we should view ourselves. An experiment conducted by the American Psychological Association showed that Barbie dolls have a negative impact on girls satisfaction with their own body image. These young girls are loosing their uniqueness and individuality because of the urge to conform to these ridiculous expectations. In Polsci 101 lecture, Mika posed the questions; what does it mean to be individual? and what is individuality? In my opinion, these questions should be addressed by a person without outside influence from society. For a person to truly be an individual, they need to form their own opinions of themselves and how they want to be perceived by others. Societal norms, such as the “ideal” Barbie body, inhibit people from developing their own individuality and as a result, cause inherent harm to them.
As Mika stated in Polsci 101 lecture, “I am harmed if my ability to pursue my life as before is significantly curtailed.” If we look at the way Barbie dolls have hurt our society through this definition, we can see how the “ideal” body image Barbie has created is hurting our way of life. Emphasizing body image and how people should appear to fit in is extremely harmful to the lives of our youth and how they personally develop. Both Barbie’s image of the perfectly proportioned skinny blonde girl and the “normal Barbie” with stretch marks, acne, and the average body type are bringing society’s attention to how we should view people’s physical traits. This superficial evaluation of people is clearly causing damage to how people pursue their lives. Instead of focusing on how to perfect a person’s body, we as a society should value the individual qualities that each person has that encompass their character and personal individuality.
The concept of creating an “ideal” body type for someone to strive to achieve is counterintuitive. Why should anyone conform to someone else’s idea of the perfect body or even the average body? We all have our own body types, physical quirks, and personalities that make us unique. If we were to conform to society’s view on how we should look or act, our sense of individuality would be lost. Individuality by definition entails the distinct qualities a person possesses and as a result, this cannot be decided or deemed unsatisfactory by an outsider. Discovering who you want to be and creating your own identity is an extremely difficult task for any person to do. Unfortunately, our society has taken away this decision process from us, as seen in Barbie’s manipulation of the “ideal” body type. When these societal norms cause harm to a person’s ability to pursue their life, something needs to be done to change them to benefit our entire population.