When I was a little girl, I loved playing with Barbies. I loved dressing them up in glittery skirts and pink high heels, brushing their long blonde hair, imagining first dates and dances. Barbie had the perfect life – a dream house, a convertible, and a chiseled body. Every curve complimented her colorful over the top wardrobe, her make-up was completely on fleek, and her eyes? The color of the bluest sea.
And whether we like it or not, speak it or not, believe it or not, those counterfeit curves have become a staple stereotype for the definition of beauty.
And even though all the models we see in magazines, on television, and in movies are doctored up, photoshopped, faked, and altered to fit that stereotype, we continue to try and attain it.
Whether subconsciously or consciously, most of the girls I meet are haunted by the Barbie body. When they look in the mirror, they don’t see who they really are. They see fat rolls and bad skin. They see too big, too small, too tall, too short. And although Barbie’s curves are manufactured, her face is tattooed and painted, and her legs in real life would create an imbalance that would send her toppling to the ground, we continue to try and attain it.
Here’s the deal.
It’s important to be healthy.
To make smart choices that allow you to play a sport, run in the backyard with your dog, friends, or kids, go on that vacation, hike through the park, ride your bicycle. To exercise the body you’ve been given, take care of the gift of life, make it last as long as you can.
It’s important to eat good food.
Food that keeps you from heart attacks, cancer, and other diseases. Food that doesn’t make you sluggish, tired, or sick. Food that gives you energy and fuel. Food that makes your living longer, not shorter.
It’s important to take care of yourself.
I’m currently helping my sweet middle schooler learn about deodorant and showers and shaving and all those fun teenagery things. Smelling decent, having breath that doesn’t kill people, cleaning our bodies. It’s important to treat yourself well, see yourself with worth, love yourself like Jesus loves you.
But it’s NOT important to look like Barbie.
The things we say to ourselves when we look in the mirror really make a difference. The negative tapes we play in our heads repeat themselves all day long, affecting our ability to love others and love ourselves. When we can’t see who we really are, we can’t see how beautiful others are around us.
And who you are is unique. Who you are is special. Who you are is worthy.
It doesn’t matter that the size on the label is bigger than you want it to be. Don’t buy the smaller size just so you can say you wear a smaller size. Buy the size that fits you, that modestly compliments your body. Every store, every manufacturer, every piece of clothing fits differently – big or small. You might be a size 12 and you have to buy a size 16 swimsuit.
No one is going to pull your swimsuit out of the drawer and look at the size. Wear something that gives you comfort and confidence.
If the trendy thing – the Barbie thing – doesn’t fit you right or make you look fantastic, don’t wear it. Your clothing should be about personality, about necessity, about warm or cool – not about fitting in. Your clothes aren’t going to solve your popularity problems or make you a better person. If your clothing is where you find your joy, you might need to look deeper inside to see what your real heart is feeling about yourself. Confidence lies in the One who made you, not how or by whom your clothing is made.
Although there have been strides made in the Barbie industry – attempts to make “real size” Barbies and Barbies with careers and Barbies with softer features, the bottom line isn’t whether or not your kids should play with these dolls. That’s a personal preference and a family decision.
The bottom line is how we allow ourselves to be swayed by the staple stereotypes of beauty. The bottom line is how we talk to ourselves about the way we look. The bottom line is what we believe about ourselves and how that translates to what we see in other people.
Much of this can begin to change when we CHOOSE to make it change.
Teenagers, encourage your friends by noticing and speaking up about the inside heart stuff more than you talk about all the outside stuff. Yes, you might love her nails, her hair, her shoes. But when you tell her about her smarts, her good deeds, her ability to make others feel good about themselves, you fight the staple stereotype.
Moms, encourage your daughters by letting go of the perfect ponytail, the cutest brand name outfit, the dirt-free face. Yes, you might love those braids, that tank top from Target, those Mary Jane shoes. But when you tell her about that good decision, that brave choice, that kind heart, you fight the staple stereotype.
My sisters, encourage yourself by concentrating on your strengths, and although you’re working on your weaknesses, don’t highlight the parts of your body so much that your determination becomes obsession. Don’t worry about a size, worry about your health. Don’t worry about the perfect face, practice how much you can give away your smile. Don’t worry about your shape, work on increasing your strength. When you do these things, you fight the staple stereotype.
All the boys of the world, we know you appreciate beauty. And we like to hear when you appreciate it. Especially in us. But our beauty on the outside is just a drop in the bucket to who we are on the inside. There are layers and layers of stuff to discover about our dreams, our hopes, our desires, our plans. We want you to really SEE us. And if you could major on the inside stuff instead of the outside stuff, you’ll help us fight the staple stereotype.
Listen up. Barbie can’t move her fingers, flatten her feet or change her expression. She can’t wrap her arms around the people she loves, bend her legs to ride a bicycle, or open her mouth to eat all the yummy stuff.
She’s a plastic doll with a plastic world and plastic dreams.
Your worth is not determined by the size of your jeans, the width of your hips, or the weight on your scale. Your worth is inside you, your beauty is within you. Let’s shatter the staple stereotype by allowing girls to see who they really are.
Sweet friends, you do not need a Barbie body.
You need to see you are loved.
You aren’t going to take the outside stuff with you anyway. It might seem really important now, but the people who matter, the people who love you will see you like He sees you.
It’s the inside stuff that really counts.
I am still working on all this stuff as much as you are. It’s WORK to see myself on the inside every day. I’m learning about health and diet (see my post about never dieting again), moderation in eating, taking care of my body, exercise (I love my bicycle!) and still keeping the balance of loving myself just where I’m at.
Please reach out and comment about your own struggles with the staple stereotype. We are better together, not when we isolate on our own islands. Just know you are not alone. I’m walking this road with you.
Ultimately, it’s realizing what this life is all about – what we will leave behind and the impact we’re making on the world around us. Eternal stuff matters far more than anything on this earth. Thanks for reading – and if you want to keep reading, subscribe to get my posts in your inbox.
Thankful for you and for this journey we’re taking together,
P.S. Also check out my viral post 10 reasons you don’t need a boyfriend or girlfriend in high school for more encouragement about WHO you are and where your WORTH lies!