Just as a flower which seems beautiful and has colour but no perfume, so are the fruitless words of the man who speaks them but does them not.
- The Dhammapada, Buddhist Collection of Moral Aphorisms (c. B.C. 300)
There’s been a good deal of talk over the years about how the media has pushed an unrealistic image of beauty upon women and young girls, celebrating an inordinate amount of skinny, waif-like models on screen and in print. Some would argue that this glamorization of an almost unobtainable body type can give otherwise healthy girls negative images of themselves and their bodies. (Myself personally? I kind of miss the days of “heroin chic.”)
Perhaps in response, a guy named Nickolay Lamm created a 3D model of a Barbie based on the CDC’s average measurements for nineteen-year-old women in America and then compared it with the Barbie doll girls have played with for generations.
What the heck is wrong with the classic Barbie?
Come on, Nickolay, can’t we give girls something to aspire to?
I knew a nineteen-year-old girl once whose dad’s business gave her access to daily injections of human growth hormone. The way the miracles of modern science worked on that girl were amazing. You talk about long and lean, she was it. Instead of tearing down the Barbie ideal, can’t we give all girls access to HGH just the same way Sandra Fluke would have us fund her birth control?
Okay, although I do think thigh gap is sexy in real life (and if you don’t know what thigh gap is, compare the Barbies above) I can also just as easily get into the mindset of the painters of the Renaissance, when a full figure represented health and prosperity and Botticelli’s Three Graces looked like a trio of ripe pears.
I dig the creativity of what Lamm did in creating his Barbie with a real world body, and it’s true, along with many of the females drawn in cartoons, Barbie is definitely an unrealistic ideal, but just scanning through the TV channels, there are plenty of teen and tween actresses on channels like Nickelodeon and Disney who look like healthy and realistic role models.
Whether the Barbie ideal is creating neuroses in American girls is subject to debate, but one thing I do know, First Lady Michelle Obama isn’t going around America telling girls, “Y’all need to put a little more meat on your bones!”
When the most popular seven-year-old in America is Honey Boo Boo, maybe we should worry that this whole body image thing has actually swung too far in the other direction. Don’t get me wrong, Honey Boo Boo’s a cute little kid, but she’s also a walking example of how a parent could help inflict their kid with diabetes by the time they’re teenagers.
Michelle Obama wants to use hip hop to fight childhood obesity (Heaven help us) but I think I have a better idea – parents, tell your kids, if you want us to keep paying that cell phone bill, you either play soccer or join the track team.