Barbie dolls. We’ve all had ’em. Even my male readers were exposed to them as kids — by sisters, female cousins or weird aunts who refused to grow up. My sister and I had both the three-story Barbie Dream House and the Barbie Corvette. Don’t be jealous!
The now iconic Barbie was first introduced in 1959, wearing a stunning black and white one-piece bathing suit, open-toed black shoes, and cat eye sunglasses. Totally cute, if you ask me. Heck, I’d wear that retro suit to the beach today!
The only problem is that I wouldn’t look anything like Barbie does in her bathing suit. You see, over the years, we’ve dressed Barbie in hundreds of different outfits: everything from American Airlines Stewardess Barbie in 1961, Miss Astronaut Barbie in 1965, Pleasantly Peasanty Barbie in 1972, Skipper Sport Barbie in 1986, or the many California-Beach-Ditzy-Valley Girl-Tanning Bed Barbies of the 1990s and 2000s.
But no matter how we dress Barbie up, she inevitably ends up naked with a really awful haircut, thrown into a bin alongside stranded Legos and mutilated G.I. Joes. And the fact remains that underneath all the themed costumes, Barbie’s body is not “normal.” It’s not anatomically correct. Her legs are too long, her waist is too small, her boobs are too big, her thighs are too thin. If Barbie were a real, live human, odds are she’d topple over due to disproportionate construction.
We’ve all heard the argument that Barbie’s body messes with little (and big) girls’ perceptions of what “normal” is. I won’t belabor that point, because it’s been studied by psychologists for decades. One result is that children, teenagers and women strive to have a body that is — simply put — impossible to attain. Endless crash dieting, deadly pills and potions, painful and dangerous plastic surgery, and tens of thousands of dollars later — and we are still not content with ourselves.
Well, one young lady in Ukraine took it even further. Her name is Valeria Lukyanova and she is known as the “Human Barbie Doll.”
When I first saw this photo, all I could do was drop my mouth wide open and let out a slow, confused gasp. I actually had to study it for a while to gauge whether or not she was a real person, or simply a mannequin. Much to my dismay, she’s real.
Valeria is only 21 years old, but she’s already spent years perfecting her appearance and capitalizing on her likeness to the famous Barbie doll.
With her teeny-tiny waist, her huge breasts, and her wide icy-blue eyes, she definitely turns heads. She’s got over 8,000 Facebook fans. Her photos — most of them overtly sexy — are splashed all over the Internet. News reporters are even covering her story.
But what’s the big news here? What’s the groundbreaking, never-before-seen-or-heard story here?
That a girl wanted to look like Barbie? No. I’ve heard that one before.
That a girl wanted to be thin? Nope.
That a girl wanted big breasts? Nah.
That a girl wanted porcelain skin, blonde hair or the ability to attract sexual attention from men? None of this is new.
To me, the real story is found in Valeria’s eyes. Take a look and you’ll see what I see — a sad emptiness. Perhaps the reason she seems plastic is because she might as well be. She is emotionless. And isn’t the ability to feel and experience emotion the very definition of humanity?
Lesson learned: The endless quest for society-defined beauty leads nowhere. Sure, it might provide momentary success or fame, but in the end it leads to nothing. Cue the endless string of Hollywood heartaches, drug overdoses, trips to rehab and suicides.
But the quest for God-defined beauty — found in serving God and others — leads to eternal happiness. The joy found in raising a child, loving a parent, building a shelter or feeding the hungry is immense. It’s full. It’s real. It’s life.
If Valeria ever reads this, I’d want to tell her that, from one Ukrainian to another, I hope she finds the latter beauty. In fact, I’m praying that for her today. Because really she’s just a woman looking for acceptance in the wrong places. We’ve all been there. We’ve all felt the need to impress others or to change the way we look or act to meet someone else’s standards. We’ve all — at one point — thought about what life would be like if we were the human Ken or Barbie.
So the truth is we might not be too far off from where Valeria is. We might be trying to change the meaning of life — making it about big boobs, skinny waists, rock hard abs, fancy cars, big houses, sex, partying, fame… and the list goes on.
But if you think about what truly brings lasting, eternal joy, I doubt any of those things would be on our lists. I bet they’d be replaced by things that are never in Hollywood blockbusters, in the lyrics of rap songs, or on the cover of Rolling Stone.
The question – for both you and me — is whether or not that is enough for us.