By Lily Lester
What do you call an extremely disproportionate figure that makes young children feel badly about their bodies? If your answer was Barbie, congrats! You’re correct. What’s another thing putting people of all ages down? That’s right, the modeling industry, and their infamously known beauty standards.
With all of the Barbies and models flooding the industry, it comes with no surprise that 42% of first through third grade girls want to be thinner. A high 95% of eating disorders are found in 12-through 25-year-olds. To add to the horrific percentages of despondent people, a striking 81% of ten-year-olds are afraid of being fat. The “beauty standards” are not what is right, it’s what is considered “socially acceptable” in modern day society. I, for one, am tired of seeing this.
The highly popular doll, Barbie, leads young children to believe that the “Barbie body” is healthy, but it really isn’t. The average leg length of a woman is 20% longer than her arms; Barbies are 50% longer than her arms. Her feet are a size three in children’s shoes, and her ankles are only six inches, meaning she would be forced to walk on all fours. The doll’s waist is microscopic 16 inches in width, which means she only has room for a couple inches of intestine and half of a liver. She would also be incapable of lifting her head, having a neck much longer and skinnier than the average women. Barbie dolls are teaching young children that it is desirable to be incredibly thin. Not saying there is anything wrong with being thin, since some are naturally that slender, but it becomes a huge problem when young children and adults are starving themselves or binging to achieve the impossible “Barbie body.”
Let’s not forget about the older crowd. Many well known brands such as Brandy Melville and Abercrombie feature models that are anywhere from a size double zero to a two. There’s been lots of controversy when it comes to the modeling industry about models and the physical standards for them, but there has also been lots of controversy over Brandy Melville’s “one size fits all” claim. One size, in fact, does not fit all. With most of Melville’s clothing being form fitting, the stretchy material does not stretch enough for anyone over the size of an 8. Abercrombie also has their fair share of hate from the public, only selling sizes catering to 10 and under for adults, and size 16 and under for childrens. In order to fit into these clothes and look like the models displayed on the websites and social media accounts, teens and above (and younger children) could resort to starving themselves, or purging after eating.
I remember being little and wondering why my mom never let me or my older sister play with Barbies, but I now know why she decided to ban the stick figure dolls from our household. When I was younger, I didn’t understand what things like Barbie and Bratz dolls can do to one’s self confidence. I had always been fine with who I was up until I got my first issue of Teen Vogue and started watching things like America’s Next Top Model, which seemed to push aside every positive thing I thought about myself. I remember being out to dinner with my parents and one of my best friends when I was about 10 years old. Carefully I looked at the menu, trying to find something under 400 calories, which was almost impossible to find on this menu. After growing rather frustrated, my mom asked me why, and I responded with, are you ready? “I need to lose weight.” I, a 70 pound, ten-year-old, was saying that I needed to lose weight. After getting a concerned lecture from my parents later that night, I didn’t voice my concern about my weight, but I really did think about it. I became obsessed with looking like these girls I saw in the magazines and all the TV shows, and it never lead to any physical problems, which I’m very grateful that it didn’t.
Eating disorders are not things to take lightly. I’m not trying to offend anybody in the modeling industry and/or anyone who is naturally slim, but I would like to say that I feel as if there aren’t enough plus-sized models in the industry. I want to see people who aren’t 6’0” and 107 pounds, I want to see people like me, like my best friend. I want to see a difference in the modeling industry, and the toy companies such as Barbie, and creating more diversity in them could really help.