My family are minimalists. So when birthdays and Christmas roll around, we throw a lot of stuff away. We don’t like plastic toys (preferring wooden ones), and we don’t like clutter. So on Evelyn’s last birthday we donated and trashed a whole lot of junk. Among them were fluorescent pink bath wash and lotion, and a tiny, sticky plastic dress up doll which made her cry because she couldn’t get the plastic dress over the plastic arms. She ran that one to the garbage can herself.
And then there was the huge Barbie display package featuring all the accessories of the Barbie Takes Care of Horsey world. “Of course we’ll throw this one away!” I laugh, “or maybe we could burn it!” Evelyn held the box close, protecting her newfound love.
Oh my god, I thought, she likes Barbie. Just like every little girl my daughter is enchanted by the one and only, quintessential American doll – Barbie: the icon of superficiality with her massive wardrobe and convertible Corvette; Barbie: the unattainable, airbrushed ideal; Barbie: a plastic, toxic, collect all four, dull ass toy.
What is it that she sees in this thing?
I don’t know, but I’m going to figure it out so that I can turn this self-image destroying idol into something to admire, not to envy. If I can do that for me, maybe I can save her from the low self-esteem and jealousy Barbie inevitably conjures up.
Barbie will become a model of perfection not to hate but to emulate! Here goes nuthin…
Barbie is a Modern Goddess
Women of the 21st century despise Barbie, they mock her unattainable perfection, they revel in pointing out how unrealistic is her beauty and how “unnatural” is her shape. But is she really as bad as all that or is her image and the accompanied hatred actually a product of our own demented demands on ourselves?
Think about it, icons of beauty have been around for centuries. Barbie herself is not actually a far cry from the Daughters of Zeus. Aphrodite, for example, the golden haired, goddess of love and beauty was openly worshiped for her perfect physique. People love her because her eyes are wide, her hair luscious, her waist delicate, her breasts a nice handful, her legs long and smooth, her smile enchanting – while Barbie is berated for the same.
The Greeks believed that pleasing their gods would bring them protection. Aphrodite was admired and her worship brought good sex and love. Women didn’t expect to be exactly like her – like people seem to think about Barbie and other modern icons – but rather Aphrodite provided an ideal of beauty to admire and to emulate.
An Archetype is Just an Archetype
While Barbie’s story is quite different from Aphrodite’s, the archetype of beauty they represent isn’t. They both depict many aspects of beauty combined in one form – each individual aspect being reasonable, the whole combination of course not. Idols are merely a display case of lovely qualities. They are a guide for imitation. Some may argue that Barbie is too difficult an ideal to attain and that all of her features are beyond reach; that is the atrocity of Barbie. But I beg to differ.
Barbie is Primal Beauty
The jealous women of our time will condemn Barbie as an anorexic. They will say that her shape is a product of starvation and therefore is an unjust model of emulation. But this is preposterous! Her shape is not a result of a lack of food but rather a lack of breads, pastas, and sweets! Barbie is not a model of starvation and deprivation but rather of a commitment to health. Her diet and lifestyle keep her young, thin, and vibrant.
Barbie is a model of dedication to a healthy diet and lifestyle.
- At 12% body fat she sports the perfect primal body composition. To achieve this level of fitness she keeps her carbohydrates low and exercises regularly.
- Her impeccable skin and eager eyes give her an irresistible youthfulness. She can thank a healthy liver for that, although she should thank herself for not bombardeding it with toxins.
- She is tall and free of deformities, suggesting that her mother had superb nutrition during pregnancy.
- While Barbie is commonly characterized as dumb, we truly have no evidence of this. She is carefree, friendly, and enthusiastic about life. Maybe she is simple but is simplicity stupidity?
- She lives by the principle of relaxation and fun. Her ability to take it easy proves her hormones are well balanced.
- She has loads of friends with whom she liberally shares her wealth. Generosity is an sign of good mental health.
- She does not take drugs. Her activities are pure and healthy.
- She is never sick. Anyone who exercises, doesn’t pollute their bodies, and eats clean meats and vegetables will boast the same resistance to disease.
It seems to me that the qualities we all hate in Barbie are precisely the outward signs of her healthy body and mind. It takes discipline and dedication to be like Barbie (sprinkled with a little luck). There is nothing to hate in that! I hope my daughter will not only admire her physique, beauty, and temperament but will also strive to emulate the behaviors that gave it to her!