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Should We Let A Barbie Doll Stress Us Out?

Holly MosierI don’t think we appreciate how much stress robs us of joy, and causes everything from illness to weight gain to depression.  I know I didn’t, until I turned 40 eleven years ago and crashed and burned.  I was a medical malpractice trial lawyer, newly remarried, trying to blend a family, and failing miserably.  I was gaining weight, losing energy, and sick all the time.  The stress was literally sucking my life away.

I spent the next five years researching stress and its debilitating effects on our bodies and minds.  I developed stress reduction tools that I could easily incorporate into my typically busy Western life.  It was like magic.  My body and my life reformed in every aspect.  I lost weight, I gained vitality, and the happiness I had as a kid returned.  It has never left.

One of the most helpful things that reduced my stress was when I realized that I could choose the way I viewed things.  There is always a happy perspective or a stressful perspective we can take on anything.  A happy perspective makes life fun; the other brings more stress, strain and unhappiness.

Yoga Teacher BarbieHere is a great example of this dynamic at work.  As reported a few days ago in in an article entitled “Yoga Teacher Barbie Bends Children’s Advocates Out of Shape,” apparently a controversy is brewing over Mattel’s latest Barbie – Yoga Teacher Barbie.  The reporter called to ask my opinion on this doll (I am a yoga teacher, and I have a yoga DVD out).  I read a description and saw the photo of the doll.  I thought it was cute, and pretty cool that very young girls would be exposed to yoga and fitness.

However, there were others who were disgusted by the doll.   One reviewer stated there was “… something about seeing that sickly-proportioned doll’s foot behind her head just makes me cringe. As if the stereotypes of yoga weren’t bad enough already, now kids are implicitly being taught that yoga teachers look like a big-headed Pam Anderson.”   Another reviewer “…blasts Mattel for Barbie’s long-argued position as a role model given that ‘she’s still sporting a bust-waist-hip proportion that’s Yoga Barbiephysically impossible for real-life women to attain, let alone maintain an active lifestyle with.’”

A doll can cause this much stress and strain?  Why?  Why not focus on the positive aspects, and feel good?  What’s the harm in that?  As I told the reporter, “…anything that exposes kids to knowledge about yoga can be positive … Why not focus on the positive aspects? Barbie is going to be around anyway.”

Taking a swing at Barbie

Little girls play with plastic dolls. Little men play with plastic women.

Taking a swing at barbie - Little girls and plastic dollsLet me explain…

When girls are young, they are given plastic dolls to play with that emulate the perfect female form…one that does not exist in nature, but in the imagination of men.

We spend the rest of our lives trying to live up to that ideal.

The “lucky” girls have moms who dress them perfectly, and they grow up being given special treatment because they have the right hair, the right clothes, the best figure.  They don’t learn how to lean on a sense of humor, develop a curiosity for literature or arts, or take a particular interest in anything that isn’t directly related to their appearance to the outside world.  They become a Barbie doll.  Beautiful to the eye, but empty inside.  Air between the ears and cold hard plastic in bed.

The rest of us, the majority, didn’t quite match up.  We developed a wit to laugh off our pain of rejection.  We cultivated passions when we realized we weren’t going to be nominated for Homecoming court.  We played sports because it was fun and we learned how to lean on each other and play as a team.

We then became women, mothers, professionals, and best friends.  That’s when we became beautiful… inside and out.  We struggle in midlife with the labels.  We are so much more that a man’s show piece, but men are afraid of us.  Many are terrified to go toe to toe with a smart, beautiful female who has opinions and ideas that are independent of theirs…

Real relationships with real women are too hard.  If they took the time and a little effort they would realize that we are caretakers at heart and we are tough as nails, yet still that vulnerable little girl who never did match up.  We don’t want money or possessions, we want to laugh and play and be challenged!

Part of me would love to get Barbie in that boxing ring and mess up her nose but good.  Mostly though, I just feel sorry for her because she is lonely and empty, wondering why everyone else seems to be having a good time, and she is going in to have yet another procedure done. Sad really….

My heart goes out the Barbies of the world, and the men who are bent on owning them.  They dress them up, show them off, then discard them when they become bored and needy.  There is a newer, younger model available at any given time.

A girl’s life is about so much more than plastic dolls and Barbie…it just is.


Jerny Rieves, cscs, pes, ces, health education - health educator - Scottsdale