The question is controversial and excites women all over the globe when asked: is Barbie healthy for little girls to play with? A line in the sand has been drawn as we take our sides and defend them to the bitter end. But whichever side you represent, let it be known that we all have opinions that are sacred within us and we all hold dear that with which we treasure most.
As a young girl, I was often mocked for the various careers I saw in my future. I was told that girls couldn't do those jobs, that we could only be secretaries and teachers or homemakers. I was discouraged and often wondered why girls couldn't be whatever we wanted. Well, Barbie must have heard my thoughts because throughout my formidable years I watched Barbie become anything she set out to be. She was an astronaut, a doctor, and even a candidate for President. Barbie had polish and class and could outshine any man who thought he was better than she. She did not make me feel like I was "just a girl;" she made me feel empowered.
I was one of those girls who went through puberty early, and boy did it smack me square in the face. By the time I was eleven I was a C cup, and then a DD by freshman year. That may seem okay, but I was a size 3. I looked awkward and top-heavy and became the butt of insults and jokes throughout my school. I was accused of stuffing my bra, and of course because I was busty I was also called a slut. I wore loose fitting sweatshirts and t-shirts all through high school in the hopes that it would curb the negative attention I was getting. And again, Barbie taught me a valuable lesson. You see, if Barbie were a real person, her measurements would be disproportionate...her hips too wide, her waist too small. It took some time, but eventually this lesson sunk in and I stopped hiding myself and started wearing clothes that flattered me instead of covering me up. So was Barbie a detriment to my self-esteem? No. She demonstrated to me that the healthiest way to live is in acceptance of who you are, no matter how different you may seem.
When I was seventeen, I was faced with what every young woman faces, the choices about college, career, and future aspirations. I was athletic and smart, so I thought a career in the military might suite me. My parents were against it saying that the Army was no place for a woman. But Barbie said otherwise. From inside cardboard and plastic she screamed though the barrier to me, "Be all that you can be. You can do it Sharon, HUAH!" And I listened. I served my country proudly for six years as a linguist serving with military intelligence units in Hawaii and Korea. The Army gave me unmatched confidence and the opportunity to educate myself at the finest universities. Barbie not only encouraged me to be courageous but to also think smart. I have been a student, a soldier, a mother, a professor, and an entrepreneur. Thank goodness for toys like Barbie; otherwise I could be stuck at home knee deep in diapers cooking dinner for a husband who is never home.
I am 5"8, weigh 120lbs, and my measurements are 32DD-21-35. I was born with red brown hair and I have green eyes and pasty white skin with numerous moles and freckles. I was never convinced I was beautiful or conventionally attractive. But when Barbie was packaged as an Irish Beauty, I knew my time had come.
In closing, I want to say thank-you to Mattel, the makers of Barbie, for giving me someone I could look up to. I played with you for ten years, and then displayed you for thirty more. Your place in my home is hallowed and your inspiration is both admired and appreciated. My life has been enriched because of your presence in it, and it is my hope that to generations after me, your value will be priceless. But above all else I would like to thank-you for one last thing. Thank-you Barbie, for being my friend.