If Barbie was a real woman her head would be two inches larger than the average American woman’s, and her neck would be twice as long and six inches thinner. Her waist would measure 16-inches, her wrists 3.5 inches and her ankles 6 inches. She would be fragile, unable to walk upright, incapable of holding her head up, or lifting anything, and her abdomen would not have room for her vital organs.
Barbie is a lie, a freak. There is nothing natural about her. And yet, millions of girls worldwide want to be her and aspire to her image of ‘beauty’.
My little girl has Barbies and it wasn’t until writing this that I’ve given it a second thought. Other than occasionally picking up one of her dolls and marvelling at the tiny waist and huge knockers! I’m not militant about toys — most boys want to play with Nerf guns, lots of girls want to play with Barbies. It’s up to me to teach my kids to love their bodies as they are, just like it’s up to me to make sure they know that ‘in the real world’ guns are bad & violence is a dumbass solution to problems that can be solved more intelligently.
But still, Barbie makes me slightly uneasy. She is a symptom of a nasty bug that’s caught on in our society — to present an impossible version of reality. Airbrushed models, pampered celebrities with huge entourages to ensure they never have an excess pound or a pimple in public view, veneered Hollywood smiles, Botox-erased laughter lines, lip-plumping, fat-sucking, happy families on the cover of a magazine… all this meddling has got us confused. What’s real, what’s natural, who is beautiful, who has it all?
We’re aspiring to ideals all the time that are nothing more than illusions. And these always-out-of-reach goals are making us less happy in our own skin and in our own lives.
So what do we know to be true?
One fact we can depend on is this: Whatever it looks like, we have an amazing body to do with what we will and a mind to use as best we can. Instead of aspiring to be like someone else, we can make the most of the person we are. We can look and feel our personal best by taking care of our bodies — eating good stuff and keeping active. We can challenge our minds by stretching them — reading, watching movies, learning new things, embracing hobbies, relaxing. We can think nice things, say nice things, do nice things for others.
Yeah, yeah, all this is easier said than done, right? If you feel low, or your self-esteem has plummeted, or you’re in no mood to do anything but wallow, you can’t just “snap out of it”! Agreed. But all we can do is try and keep trying. Give it all you’ve got to flip negative thoughts into positives. And realise that what we have, while not perfect, is ours to make the most of.
At the risk of sounding like a flake, I am going to share with you a yoga chant I learned this week: Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu. Four words for you to mull in a sing-songy way in your head. That little chain of words means all of this when you translate it:
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.”
I hope you can use this sentiment in your life to free yourself from moments of self-doubt and find a reason to be happy with your lot. I’m going to give it a whirl. But I know it takes guts to topple towering feelings of inadequacy and find confidence in our bodies and our achievements. And guts is something you definitely have over Barbie — bless her, she can’t even fit them in her freakily skinny body!