the barbie scandal



I hate Barbie Dolls. I remember selling my very small collection of previously owned Barbie Dolls (three to be exact) at a garage sale when I was in 5th grade. I used the money to buy baseball cards.

When my daughter Violet was born, I vowed to never purchase a Barbie Doll. I detested everything she stood for: shopping, dating, naïve expectations, unrealistic physical proportions, a perfect “Ken”… the list could go on.

You may think I’m being a little far-fetched. It’s just a doll, you may be thinking. That is true. She is a doll. A doll that little girls idolize and begin to mirror at a very young age. I’m sure you’ve heard this information before, but I’d like to share it again. If Barbie was a real person…

  • She would be 5’9”
  • She would have a 39” bust
  • She would have an 18” waist
  • She would have 33” hips
  • She would wear a size 3 shoe
  • Barbie’s “full-figure” would weigh 110 pounds
  • Her BMI (body mass index) would be 16.24 and fit the weight criteria of anorexia
  • There would not be enough room for her body to hold all her organs
  • She would probably not menstruate
  • She is physically incapable of lifting her own head
  • She would need to “walk” on all fours due to extreme proportions
  • Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 pounds with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” with directions inside stating simply “Don’t eat.” *

*source: The Scary Reality of a Real-Life Barbie Doll

Although I have never purchased a Barbie doll, Violet has received a few of them as gifts. Grandparents, friends, cousins, Disney princess movies, and birthday parties are unavoidable sources of Barbie Doll fun. I have somewhat relented my original staunch position. Violet sleeps with three Barbie dolls in her bed each night. However, I did notice that it didn’t take her long to determine a new definition of beauty no matter how many times we talked about “it’s what’s on the inside that counts.” Makeup, clothes, hair, shoes, and accessories began to take on an entirely different meaning. She doesn’t want to leave the house without putting on lip gloss. The idealized culture of our world had suddenly reared its ugly head in the mind of my innocent 5-year old. Beauty was now defined by sparkly platform heels, fake eyelashes, and huge breasts (speaking of eyelashes – have you ever seen Barbie without makeup?). I realize this is partially my fault. I love makeup, and I do spend some time in front of the mirror. But how to we maintain a balance of caring about our appearance and relentlessly obsessing about each and every “flaw”?

It’s so important to model a positive body image within our homes. But sometimes we take it too far – our bodies become our number one priority. That can include clothing, shoes, accessories, makeup, dieting, gym memberships, talking about food all the time, exercising like a maniac, etc. How do we accept ourselves and maintain a healthy lifestyle without going crazy? These are some ground rules that I’ve set – as a woman, as a mother, and as a wife.

  • Get rid of the magazines! Trashy rags like Cosmo, Glamour, Victoria’s Secret and Elle won’t positively impact our daughters or our sons in any way, shape, or form (not to mention our husbands!). This includes teen reading for our older kids as well. Seventeen is not in the business of creating upstanding citizens. They prey on our daughters’ very fragile teenage emotions and self-image. Other advertisements  such as cologne/perfume mailers, clothing stores coupons – dare I say “Abercrombie & Fitch, or workout DVD covers (ex: Brazilian Butt Blast) could be considered soft porn. Sometimes not so soft. Be careful what you have lying around your home for little eyes to gulp down with complete abandon.
  • Don’t be critical of yourself ALL the time! No one likes to be around a person who can’t take a compliment and who argues when she receives one. Your kids are watching you critique yourself in front of the mirror, suck in your gut, and examine your bum in each pair of jeans. Continually talking about how much you need to lose weight is not only annoying to your friends and family, but it can be destructive as well. If you need to lose weight to get healthy, quit talking about it. Go do it.
  • Don’t be on a perpetual diet. Have some fun with your kids. Enjoy an ice cream treat and some movie popcorn. Food can be fun. Don’t be the Debbie Downer of every family gathering by only eating the sprouts and broccoli. Personally, I’d rather have a little extra “love” on my thighs than think about EVERY SINGLE THING I put in my mouth. Balance and common sense are key.
  • Encourage your kids to enjoy physical activity. Workout together. Play outside every day. This is a confidence booster for everyone. Not to mention an increase in serotonin. It’s time to kick those winter blues – happy place, here I come!
  • Try to be more like our husbands. How many times do we see them analyzing every lump, bump, and roll? That’s right. Never.
  • Don’t be self-conscious in the bedroom. Our husbands love us no matter what we look like. Don’t try to trap your husband into criticism. When you ask him “Do I look fat?”, there is no positive direction that conversation can go. As my husband readily admits – guys want their women anywhere, any way, any time. And a guy loves a gal who loves herself!

We are real women. We are not carbon copies or magazine cut-outs. We are not an airbrushed photo. We don’t have personal trainers, private chefs, and nannies. We love our kids and our husbands. We don’t have kids or husbands. We work hard, no matter what we do. We eat the whole pan of brownies. We eat a kale protein shake. We work out incessantly and see no change. We look better than we did in high school. We choose to sleep instead of exercise for the sake of our sanity. We exercise all the time. We are in great shape. We’ve never been more out of shape. We have curves. We have no chest at all. We can rock a pair of skinny jeans. We can’t fit our calves into a pair of skinny jeans. We run marathons. We can’t run half a mile. We have a six-pack. We have dimples on our thighs and rolls on our bellies. We have scars from C-sections and loose skin from pregnancy or prior weight loss. We have dry hair and gray hair. We can’t afford $200 skin cream. We have crows feet. We love ourselves. We are sick of ourselves. We are tired. We have good days and bad days. We eat our vegetables. Macaroni and cheese is our best friend. We have dreams and goals. We cry. We laugh. We are real women. Every kind of real.  It’s time to accept our bodies for who we are, where we’ve been, and what we will become. The Today Show is airing a great series on this very topic! Click here for the video.

Some of my amazingly, awesome friends have willingly taken photos of themselves (see below). Unashamed. For the whole world to see. We would love you to join us in an upcoming post entitled “Real Women.” Show your kids and your husbands that you are proud of who you are. One random entry will receive an awesome giveaway! Pure Hair Studio is going to give away a cut, color, AND makeup application. We would love this post to go viral! Forward this information to your sisters, friends, mothers, and grandmothers. No one is too old! Must be 21 years old to participate. Motherhood is not required. All women are real women!

Send the pics to: [email protected].

Photo requirements:

  • Black and White
  • Wear a black sports bra
  • Wear black bottoms (yoga pants, shorts, or swimsuit style)
  • Place a sign over your face with a truth (positive or negative) about you – preferably something related to your body image
  • Photos must be received by May 15, 2014

Read the follow up post here.

Love Your Body








 Read the follow up post here.








7 Responses to the barbie scandal

  1. ajourneytothankful April 28, 2014 at 12:03 pm #


  2. Heather April 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm #

    Hey Erin – Great piece… I’m a contributor to Dallas Moms Blog and a MOPS speaker down here on this topic. 🙂 Your tips are exactly what I recommend in my talks! 🙂 I take a slightly different twist on the “love your selfie” concept because I believe that there’s not a woman out there who doesn’t already know it’s “what’s on the inside that counts” and “God made all women beautiful” lingo. But, I do think that there is an answer for the body image battle 91% (according to Today show) of women face. 🙂 Thanks for preaching the good news on body image! My blog on the topic is

    • Erin May 6, 2014 at 3:07 pm #

      Thanks so much for reading! I would love to hear you speak. I’ll check out your blog!

  3. Gary April 28, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Good, honest article. As in most things in life, a person needs to be balanced and that was addressed here. Luke’s comments were right on the money…the pressure is off, girls!

  4. ngant2013 April 28, 2014 at 5:59 pm #

    Someone posted this page on facebook today … in alignment with this wonderful post! Pictures of women of all shapes and sizes loving on their little ones – gorgeous:)

  5. apink April 29, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    i gave a speech about this topic I agree with it and I love the article along with the pics at the end! I would to add mine too! if I could !

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