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What is Beauty?

In a society that is so obsessed with being thin and beautiful, the definition of what is really beauty is overlooked. Much of the media, including television and magazines, puts emphasis on being thin and this emphasis is drilled into the minds of many young girls. At such a young age, girls soak up the information fed to them by the media and they accept it at face value without dissecting it or questioning it. They are shown examples of “beauty” and what they are supposed to look like to be accepted as beautiful, and when they do not measure up to that impossible, unrealistic standard they feel as if they are not good enough.

The example of “real life” Barbie is one that I find to be most fascinating. Barbie is a toy, marketed towards young girls, and this is where society begins to lay the foundation of an ideal beautiful woman. Barbie is the epitome of what society defines as beauty: tall, thin, blonde, and blue-eyed, but the truth about Barbie is not really so beautiful. If Barbie were an actual living woman, she would be 5’9” and weigh 110 pounds. Her measurements would be 39″ bust, 18″ waist, and 33″ hips, which in actuality is not beautiful at all and almost alien-like. At the size that a Barbie doll is, it is difficult to see how disproportionate her body really is, but what is obvious is that she is thin, with a very small waist, yet very large breasts, and this is what young girls are being taught is beauty. Being 5’9″ and 110 pounds is not only near impossible, but it is also extremely unhealthy. At Barbie’s estimated height at weight, that would give her a BMI of 16.24 and anything under 17 is considered underweight or anorexic. Not only that, but it is highly unlikely that at such a low BMI Barbie would be able to menstruate, which is sending a highly confusing message. Girls are “supposed” to grow up to become women and become mothers and that is what many little girls want for their lives, so society is asking the impossible, be beautiful like Barbie and have babies.

The influence from society doesn’t stop there, rather it is enforced throughout adolescence by television shows and magazines, and all through adulthood leaving girls and women questioning whether or not they’re “beautiful enough”. The constant criticism on beauty leads to many negative consequences like bullying, self harm, and even suicide. As long as society continues to place the pressure on women to live up to the “ideal beauty”, it will be a never-ending cycle.

Hamilton College student Galia Slayen built a human-size Barbie.


2 Comments

  1. meerkat93 says:

    I love the research you put into Barbie’s BMI and how she can’t menstruate– I knew her body was unnatural but I never realized the extent of its unhealthiness! What a contradiction. I completely agree with you about the conflicting messages this sends to girls.

  2. dsielski says:

    Crazy that I never even thought about how a barbie would look as a real-life woman. This article is really interesting in how it explains that if a barbie was blown up into a real life woman, she would be completely disproportionate and look “alien-like.” In addition, I would have to agree with the fact that it is sad that most women try to base their idea of beauty off of models and barbies, when in reality, models are mostly photo shopped to look like they do in pictures, and Barbie would be anorexic in real life.

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