Woman as Barbie

  Woman is also defined by her physical appearance as well as the social roles that she plays. To be the ideal woman, you must have an ideal body—36-18-33, beautiful clean skin, and a flawless smile. She is Mattel’s Barbie.


Woman has been plagued with images of the ideal body for many years, and what was once considered to be voluptuous and curvy, is now considered to be fat and overweight [16].In today’s society, a slender and toned physique is considered to be ideal.

            Women are spending a lot more time and money on the management and discipline of their bodies, much more than ever before [17] . The female body has become a “docile body where forces and energies are habituated to external regulation, subjection, transformation and improvement”[17] . Woman feels that her body does not measure up to the cultural standards. Glossy images of flawless beauty and extremely thin women would not have the effect that they do have if we did not live in a culture that encourages us to believe that we CAN and MUST rebuild and reform our bodies and faces [18] .



Some advertisements claim that creams can “[firm] and [tone] while you moisturize” or “lifts [your facial] features in 8 weeks”. Woman must not have wrinkles on her face nor anywhere on her body, because the ideal woman is young and wrinkle free. Other advertisements push Women into losing weight so that she can conform to the ideal shape of thinness. Weight loss pills claim that “losing 31 pounds was so easy” and that the woman looked “more beautiful” or that losing weight can “change your life”. Advertisements tap into the cultural standards and ideals and promote products that claims to help Woman achieve the ideal thin body. Parental slogans such as “don’t judge a book by its cover” and “its what is on the inside that counts” is not supported by these types of advertisements and thus provide a superficial view of who it is that is Woman. These advertisements do not start eating disorders per se, but they do provide a fertile soil for which  Woman’s unnatural obsession for thinness can grow into eating disorders[17] .


            Advertisements that tell Woman that she must be thin, is in essence telling Woman to be less than what she really is[18] . She has to be small, weak and passive compared to man, who is large, strong and aggressive. Yet some feminists claim that women who go on hunger strikes are taking control of their bodies, and by taking control she is exercising her “male” traits of self-control and self-mastery [17] .She transforms her feminine body into a masculine one so that she is no longer less than man but equal to him. This is not done intentionally.

Regardless of the reasons behind eating disorders, it is important to note that this ideal of extreme thinness is not healthy for Woman (or man). Studies have found that girls who frequently read magazines are more likely to diet, when only 29% of those girls were actually overweight.


           There have been many campaigns that promotes a positive body image for Woman to aspire to. One in particular is the one that Sheena’s Place had on the television a few months ago[18]

Gretel: Hansel look a house!

Hansel: And it's made of candy.

Gretel: Ummm, chocolate cake.

Hansel: And the windows are made of toffee.

Gretel: I want the roof.

Dad's voice: So, how's my plump little Gretel?

Mom's voice: How do you do it? You eat as much as a boy.

Dad: Don't eat to much or you'll get fat.

Voice over: How your child feels about her body is up to you.

(Gretel rubbing her tummy)

Hansel:  Gretel?

Voice Over: Help stop eating disorders before they start.

This campaign was a good example of the idea that eating disorders are seeded from the insecurities, social and sexual vulnerabilities that Woman feels about her body and how impressionable she is when she is young.


RANDOM FACT: The average woman in today’s society would have to grow to 7 feet tall, increase her bust by 5 inches and loose 6 inches off her waist to have Barbie’s measurements of 36-18-33.

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