“I'm a Barbie girl in the Barbie world Life in plastic, it's fantastic! You can brush my hair, undress me everywhere Imagination, life is your creation”
In 1997 the Danish pop group Aqua released the song “Barbie Girl” which included these lyrics, suggesting that of course, she was very pliable as she was just plastic, her life will be the creation of your imagination!
Barbie is the doll released by Mattel in 1959. According to numerous sources the dolls' physical measurements are not that of a real woman, putting into motion for the last 50+ years an artificial ideal of this plastic woman in doll form that young children have grown up with.
The idea for this post was spurred by an internet meme that was shared with me. It was a meme about a Quarantine Edition Barbie in sweats. A version closer to many of our current realities than one would care to think about, but so far away from the Barbie that I saw in my mind that shaped who I was trying to be.
Yes, I was trying to be that Barbie that was plastic, whose life could be an ideal creation from your imagination. Was, yes as in the past tense as that is no longer the image I seek for many reasons, not the least of them is the negative stereotypes that it puts upon women.
Why was that your ideal?
A very little-known fact was that my first ideal was to be that glamour barbie, simply a trophy wife. That was my aspiration and intent when it came to my looks and fulfilling that role. It was clearly a reflection on my own self-confidence but also adapting to what I thought were societal expectations which at that time were shaped from a male point of view.
Imagine the expectation of considering body-altering procedures in order to create the look of this conceptual woman, not a real woman.
Where did that idea come from, I know through a lot of therapy that it came from exposure to porn and the portrayal of the desired woman as far as a man is concerned. Yes, that is a generalization of course, but closer to the truth than from it. For men reading this post please note that is an example of male privilege, in case you were thinking that male privilege doesn’t exist.
All men are exposed to these same societal expressions and while not everyone is undergoing a life-changing process as I did, men are regularly exposed to porn and the norms of the ideal women that it negatively portrays.
This creates a negative societal lens that all women are seen through.
You see in order for men to move up the Alpha Male pecking order, the more she is a societal ideal, the higher up that invisible male societal ladder men climb. Like any ladder the higher you climb the further up that hierarchy you are held to by your peers.
Yes, there are many factors that affect men, some negatively, that these artificial expectations need to be replaced with a more positive human-centric lens.
That, in short, is what an alpha male society, and the patriarchy that is the infrastructure supporting an alpha male culture holds everyone to artificial societal norms.
I no longer want to be a Barbie, my own ideal of pretty yes, but not an artificial Barbie.
The more we change our language and break the patterns that these negative societal values the sooner we get to acceptance.
So if you think I am completely wrong, here’s a quick test, think of a woman. What is the first word that comes to your mind to describe her?
Go ahead, I will wait . . .
Was your first word Beautiful, Gorgeous, or Pretty? If it was, do smart, intelligent, or brilliant not apply to her as well? What about brave, courageous, or skillful? I guess strong, dedicated, team player didn’t come up either?
You see the words we use are part of the problem.
Let’s stop asking the women in our lives to be Barbie’s and start being strong, independent human beings capable of openly showing all the other attributes. I can just about promise you everyone is capable of these traits.
The interesting outcome from my own journey is I have 50 years’ experience knowing how men think and act, so if you need an interpreter, I am your gal!! I happen to know and understand the systems that affect the men in your life and how they behave.