What ever happened to my dear Barbie doll? I still remember my first. I got her for my fifth birthday. She was the 1996 Atlanta Olympics Gymnastics Barbie. She came with a set of parallel bars and everything, down to the leotard and the sneakers. I was walking through a local store with some friends not too long ago, and we took a stroll down nostalgia lane in the toy section to try and find our childhood playthings. We saw several variations on the classic Barbie dolls; the “Holiday 2007” edition, the “I Love Lucy” collector’s editions, and Mattel’s latest installment. She’s grown legs twice the size of her torso, wears heels and fishnet stockings, and struts around singing about how she wants to be a “teen top model.” In an effort to try to find out more about Model Barbie, I stumbled upon the official Barbie Collector website. One of the newest collectables is “Cabaret Dancer Barbie (Brunette),” shown wearing heels, fishnets, a top hat, and straddling a chair.
With the growing epidemic of eating disorders and rock-star party girls popping up in the news, I believe that girls need good, solid role models. Look at Carre Otis, former supermodel. She nearly died because of her struggle with anorexia, but she turned her life around and became a plus-size model – quite the astonishing feat. She has also distinguished herself as a spokeswoman for the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
What about more realistic heroines to look up to? Sojourner Truth was an African-American woman who served as a slave in the late seventeen to early 1800s. In 1851, she gave her famous “Ain’t I a woman?” speech to an audience at The Ohio Women’s Rights Convention, which still remains one of the predominant equal rights speeches of our time. Grace Chisholm Young was one of the first women to earn a doctoral degree in mathematics in 1895. As women were not commonly accepted in the field in that time, she published all of her work under her husband’s name. Eleanor Roosevelt not only cared for her husband and children in their time of need; but also practically ran the country, was active in the UN, and was a member of several equal rights organizations.
There are even every day heroines in our community. The other day, I was reading the obituary of a local woman. In her 89 years on earth, she got married, had children, among a slew of other things. She was the first of her family to earn a high school diploma, an honor granted in 1936. During WWII, she worked in an ordnance plant to make munitions for the Allies. She and her husband started their own realty business in Longmont. This incredible woman volunteered at her church, the local historical society, the Board of Realtors, Kiwanis, and even the Hospital Auxiliary. As I was reading her obituary, I was thinking to myself, “I hope that my obituary takes up half a page to tell my story.”
To tell you the truth, I’m inspired by all of these women. It takes real courage to change your life, and true motivation to change the lives of others. Even though, at the time, they were all slandered for their efforts, their contributions to our modern day society are endless. While our nation isn’t soon going to realize that young girls are quite impressionable, I believe that we can all take small steps to keep girls from basing their lives off of magazine-cover beauty. Instead of buying your daughter that tarted-up Barbie doll she wants so much, introduce her to an aspect of our history as a gender.
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