The Barbie Doll Effect
Personal Development, Rape Culture, Alicia Keys, and You
Alicia Keys has famously given up on make-up. She affirms in an interview for Glamour that beauty is “…not being the norm.” As I contemplated my choices in the light of her decision, I contemplated the message I want my daughters to take away. My mind raced as I considered how to broach the subject of make-up and grooming with today’s female audience. Pressure on one side to be dolls attracting the best suitors, friends, and opportunities. Pressure on other sides to be a feminist autonomous, independent, and ardently opposed to a rape culture suggesting that they must conform to certain ideas of dress and presentation. What I want to bring forefront, though, is attention to authentic, personal development. The opposite is all too prevalent.
I call it the “Barbie Doll Effect.” That’s when women strive to basically look like a Barbie doll. You know the long, wavy weave, perfectly-arched eyebrows, foundation-made smooth skin, extra-long eyelashes, and the layers of color and make-up. This concerns me. Not the least of which is because I have two daughters and want them to approach life authentically. Beyond that, I want all girls and women to know that they can succeed without morphing into a person that is not them. The Barbie Doll Effect has caused girls and women to layer on so much to the point where the non-Barbie moments look night and day in comparison.
We are in a time when women want to be known for their intellect and their natural beauty. They want to be respected for who they are as an individual. Many still want to be called “Cute,” “Gorgeous” “Pretty,” and even “Sexy.” These women may find themselves showing more of their bodies to get attention. Popping and boosting parts of their body until there is nothing left to the imagination. Industries are propped up as well on the insecurities and questions women have about their appearance, their bodies, their identities, and often their worth. This is the danger I am against. Self-care and grooming are admirable AND more important is self-efficacy and authenticity. You are worthy.
The Messaging Problem
What drives a woman to present herself as anything other than herself desiring a reaction of genuine respect when she literally presents with a mask? The word out there is that women are “complex.” I don’t support that, nor do I think it’s cute when I hear women agree with it. There are plenty of areas in society where women are not taken seriously. Why own that it is because we are complex? There doesn’t have to be a miscommunication in what we present to the world. You can be beautiful and show the world you are intelligent without the precursor of the “Barbie Doll Effect”—being something you are not.
Somewhere and somehow, we believed the messages that life (especially appearance) was all about being perfect. The perfect look just might land you in the perfect relationship, perfect job, perfect whatever. That’s not true because the charade can only last so long. After the novelty fades, you are just another Barbie adventure. As the real becomes harder to disguise, you can no longer suppress the longing to be accepted for who you are.
Some females think, “If I just look like this, then I will get noticed.” Guess what, you do get noticed. You have set yourself up as prey. I am talking about judgement, not violence or mistreatment. You are never at fault for violence targeting you. Rape culture is wrong to communicate that a woman somehow invites unwelcome and inappropriate attention. AND understand what your primping choices communicate to others. These truths are not mutually exclusive. Please don’t be fooled, people (males and females) assume what a female will do, her character, and her felt limitations by the extent she has dolled herself up no matter the big talk that comes out of her mouth arguing the opposite.
Please don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with being beautiful. When beauty is made to be something unnatural, it is hard to call it beauty. But, who is the real judge of the matter? You are! Each of us has a responsibility to ourselves to be true and genuine. I am asking girls and women to view and consider themselves. Feel good about what they see. If that picture doesn’t please you, there is always the option to self-develop, improve, and build. Not for anyone else or to get a like, but for you.
The Authentic You
Who am I? It’s a question I had to ask myself more than once in my life. I am more than looks, more than somebody’s child, and more than the job I hold. Deep within me is my soul. This is the conclusion I came to. Your soul is where you are your authentic self. It needs no make-up or extra frills to be. It is. On the outside, there are times you want to accentuate or embellish what you have. Nothing wrong with that. My concern is that you don’t lose who you are and critically delay the success you seek. Listen to your soul and allow it to perfectly shine through. Enjoy the fruits of being authentically you, not the plastic, dime-a-dozen replica dolls from fashion magazines or cosmetic sales conventions. The Barbie Doll Effect promotes a pale comparison to the authentic article that is You.