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Barbie-Barbie on my Floor

Why is it that so many women today struggle with vanity, with self-image? Why do girls think they are not beautiful?
by Father Nathan Miller | Source:

Although the over sexualization of our culture has seeped into many a child’s box of toys, parents would continue to answer with an emphatic “NO” to the following 2 questions:

    “Would you invite a 20-year-old, over endowed model to come into your daughter’s room to be admired for her body and dress? Would you allow your daughter to help her dress?” However, as Mrs. Pearl replies in the article which follows: “Strange to even write something like that, yet that’s what Barbie represents.” And then, let’s ask calmly, in whose daughter’s room today would you not find at least a few naked Barbies on the floor?

<<Many parents have expressed concern over Barbie-like dolls. Other mothers defend Barbie by pointing out that they enjoyed the dolls without any harm. “It didn’t hurt me,” is the usual reply. I wonder, Mama, if indeed it didn’t hurt you. Do you sometimes have a strange, sexually compelling thought life? I have talked to many women who confess the struggle they have with lustful daydreams, imagining themselves to be sexy, beautiful dolls (a most appropriate word in this case). Yet they confess to not functioning well with their own husbands. What is the root of their problem? What caused make-believe to be more satisfying than the real world? Could it be they were trained from a small child to play make-believe (daydream) when they were given a sexy little doll to dress and undress?

Many would argue that Barbie-type dolls are not sexy, but the real world says something else. It is very common in men’s prisons and military barracks to find Barbie dolls in various stages of undress sitting in prominent places. It is a kind of hands-on pornography which they seem to find very gratifying. Did you know that some of Barbie Dolls’ biggest fans are middle age men?

Somehow, parents are badly deceived, and their children are the victims. Think about it, mother. Would you invite a 20-year-old, over endowed model to come into your daughter’s room to be admired for her body and dress? Would you allow your daughter to help her dress? Strange to even write something like that, yet that’s what Barbie represents.

It is a healthy and natural instinct for little girls to love babies and to imagine themselves in the role of loving mother. Role-playing is real preparation for the future, but there is absolutely no similarity between playing baby dolls and playing Barbie dolls. They are two different kinds of dolls with two different purposes. What are you training your little girl to be? When and how will she finally realize the dreams stimulated by Barbie?>>

   A recent initiative has reacted with a desire to give children something clean, wholesome, healthy and Catholic. They call themselves saintlysisters and state on their website: “Saintly Sisters springs from Suzzanne Brakefield's desire to provide positive role models for young women. It's Suzzanne's sincerest hope that vocations will be inspired by her dolls.”

   Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got nothing against dressing up dolls in nun's clothing, but let’s be honest: reacting to a “problem” with another extreme … does that really get to the core?


Why is it that so many women today struggle with vanity, with self-image? Why do girls think they are not beautiful? I mean, you might not agree with the Barbie doll vs. Baby doll argument, but ask yourself this question: Why are most women afraid of appearing “in public” without make-up on? Did God not create them beautiful?

   It happened again just yesterday. The last time I saw her she was just a baby. Now she’s grown and married. I looked at her picture for the first time as a grown adult, and I told her the truth. “You’re beautiful!” I caught her off guard, I think: and she replied almost awkwardly: “You know, that’s something I don’t hear very often. No one ever tells me I’m beautiful.” Then I hurried to explain: "You look like your mother!"

   A few hours later I read this article 50-rules-for-dads-of-daughters:Iliked #18 the most. It reads: “Daddy, tell her she’s beautiful. Say it over and over again. Someday an animated movie or ‘beauty’ magazine will try to convince her otherwise.”

   And all in the same day, I talked to another young soul struggling with her looks, friend acceptance, and self-worth. I couldn’t help it, I had to send her this story from Fr. Alfonse’s Blog. He relates:
<<I called her back and asked her,“What’s wrong?” She looked at me and began to cry. 
“When I was a senior in High School I was not the most popular girl in school. In fact, I wasn’t popular at all. I was very shy and nerdish and most of the time the other girls just ignored me.So I was very surprised when the most popular girl invited me to her birthday party. I couldn’t believe it. I mean, ‘why in the world would she invite me?’ Well, I was very happy to go. When I got there, I was surprised that no one greeted me at the door. In fact, no one really talked to me at all. It was as if I wasn’t even there! Everyone at the party was having a great time, laughing and talking, and I felt so out of place. After being there for an hour, I decided I was going to leave. That’s when one of the girls put her arm around my neck and took me into the bathroom.There were other girls there too. They were waiting for me. The birthday girl told me, ‘Just look at yourself! Look at how pathetic you are! You are so ugly! Say it, ‘I’m ugly!’ Say it!!! That’s when I said it, ‘I’m ugly’. ‘Say it again!!!’ she demanded. I said it over and over again. Then she said, ‘You’re stupid! Say it!’ And I said it out loud, ‘I’m stupid.’” …
She continued…“Just recently, I received an e-mail and an apology from the girl that had done this to me. But what happened that night has left a very deep scare in my heart and in my life. I am having a hard time forgiving her and loving myself. I have a hard time getting to sleep at night.”
I asked her why she thought this girl had apologized. “I don’t know, Father. Maybe she felt sorry for me.” I told her, “I don’t think that’s the reason. I think it is obvious: SHE WAS LYING…>> (editor: lying about the fact that she was not beautiful)
   When unreachable ideals are placed before us as the norm, we either waste away our lives dreaming we could, or we kill ourselves in an attempt to try.

   The analogies above might not be perfect, but I think the idea comes across loud and clear: When we try to react to the competition for exterior beauty, by replacing it with yet another competition of exterior beauty - say modest exterior beauty - then we have missed the point, and the suffering will go on.

   And the answer is so simple: REAL BEAUTY IS FOUND IN THE SOUL – those who truly seek to make that beauty shine, more and more, as a life-project, are the ones gorgeous in God’s eyes… which is the only beauty that lasts for eternity.

P.S. Would you like to promote vocations to the religious life? Well, start by teaching little girls to have a "Motherly" heart - they will be needing it even more in a life consecrated to the service of all God's children!

Fr. Nathan is editor of

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