Essay: Fashion Individuality and Self-Expression

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[. . .] But Barbie is also a plastic doll that represents the ideal woman. Young girls are bombarded with images of Barbie. Barbie is also packaged to appeal to young girls and their likes. Much like a celebrity who has everything a teenager aspires to, Barbie is portrayed as having what young girls aspire to. As a doll for young girls, Barbie also projects and ideal body image, and one that is a negative representation. The ideal body image represented by Barbie becomes the ideal by which young girls judge themselves. Alvarez describes this where she refers to her and her sisters complaining about "how short we were, about how our hair frizzed, how our figures didn't curve" (148). This illustrates how young girls compare themselves to an ideal and judge themselves based on that ideal. For most girls, comparing themselves to Barbie will result in a negative self-image where they feel inadequate. This is how the body image of Barbie can reduce a young girl's self-esteem.

What about Barbie's tendency to focus on the materialistic. Could this also reduce a girl's self-esteem because they will not feel that they have enough? This relates to the concern that Barbie promotes capitalism. As Gloria Borger says, Barbie is into "labels and not shopping at outlet malls" (90). Barbie's needs also seem to change every year as more and more 'necessities' are introduced. Barbie needs extensive wardrobes, convertibles, horses, thousands of pairs of shoes, and more. For the company profiting from Barbie, this is a means of making more money from its consumers. But what message does this send to the young girls idolizing Barbie? It suggests to them that it is normal to continually strive for more material things. If girls cannot gain the material things they think they need, it is possible that they may feel inferior to others. However, there is a big difference between a young girl feeling like she does not own enough and a young girl feeling like she is not enough. This is the major difference between the two concerns. Body image is considerably more damaging because it relates to who a girl is and not just what she is. This is more personal, more closely related to self-image and self-esteem, and harder to gain. For example, consider a short girl who is healthy, but does not have the same petite body shape as Barbie. She also does not have the means to gain the material things that Barbie has. Does this young girl have at least the possibility of being like Barbie? In regards to material things, she does. She may not have the means to gain them now, but she can look forward to a positive future where she works hard and gains success and can own cars and horses and shoes. In regards to body image, she does not. Regardless of what she does, she cannot be tall, blonde, and petite. This shows how Barbie's beauty standard is unachievable for many girls. It is this that makes it so much more damaging than the materialistic lifestyle suggested.

It is now worth considering how potentially dangerous Barbie's beauty standard can be. For a girl who cannot achieve it, it may lead her to feel she is not pretty enough or perfect enough. This can create low self-esteem, feelings of insecurity, and depression. This is damaging enough, but some people can also have much larger problems. This includes serious eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia. Anorexia is a disorder where people have an intense fear of getting fat and starve themselves. Bulimia is an eating disorder where people binge eat and then either induce themselves into vomiting, crash diet, vigorously exercise, or use laxatives. Both anorexia and bulimia can lead to serious illness and even death. Fraser (107) agrees that an unattainable image can lead to eating disorders and that it can also lead to "general self-loathing for not measuring up to an impossible ideal." In modern society, there are also accepted methods of changing one's appearance. Women can undergo surgery to reduce fat, improve their body shape, or improve their appearance. While these kinds of actions are generally accepted by society, it is still concerning that many women feel the need to achieve such a level of perfection. It raises questions about how appearance has become the measure of a person. While it is not valid to suggest that Barbie is completely to blame, it can be suggested that she plays a role. After all, Barbie is the ideal woman and has nothing but looks. She does not have character, moral values, or personality. And Barbie is presented to young girls as a model of the perfect woman while they are a very young age and very impressionable. The end result is that Barbie can deliver to girls an impossible ideal that they will never be able to live up to, and one that has the potential to lead to long-term negative consequences.

Overall then, there is little doubting that Barbie's unattainable perfect body image can be damaging to children. There are more problems to Barbie than just this, as the many critics have noted. However, the beauty standard remains the most concerning problem because of its… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Fashion Individuality and Self-Expression.  (2005, April 26).  Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/fashion-individuality-self-expression/2140773

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"Fashion Individuality and Self-Expression."  Essaytown.com.  April 26, 2005.  Accessed July 17, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/fashion-individuality-self-expression/2140773.