Barbie: she has over 16 different cars, has held almost 200 unique jobs, cracked the secret to eternal youth, and has single-handedly contributed to the severe problem of body dysmorphia.
Barbara Millicent Roberts, aka Barbie the famous doll, was created in 1959 by Ruth and Elliot Handler, creators of toy company Mattel, along with friend Harold Matson. The Handlers named Barbie after their daughter Barbara, and Ken, Barbie’s boyfriend, was named after their son Kenneth, according to a Los Angeles Times reporter Andrea Chang. Barbie originally started out with proportions 36(breast)-18(waist)-33(hips) and had these until recently when Mattel began changing the dolls to look like actual average-sized people back in 2016. What I am sure the couple didn’t expect from their doll creation was the Frankenstein-esque makeover people have been giving themselves to emulate the doll’s appearance.
According to a CBSNEWS article published in 2016 titled “‘Out of touch’ Barbie doll gets a major makeover,” Mattel decided to add 23 new dolls to the Barbie lineup, adding new body types and ethnicities to make their collection more diverse. Mattel President and COO Richard Dickson said that the company hopes to change Barbie to represent the times more accurately. “It would be more of a risk if we don’t continue to evolve Barbie — If we stayed stagnant, if she looked the same, if she did the same thing. She’s got to evolve with the times.”
Despite Mattel having a more progressive attitude about Barbie’s looks, there is still a problem with the initial concept of the doll because it unleashed a wave of women and men who feel that they need to emulate the doll’s appearance and lifestyle. The “Barbie Doll Syndrome” is a body image complex which the Free Medical Dictionary defines as “the drive, often of adolescent girls, to attain impossible standards of beauty, projected by toys—e.g., Mattel’s Barbie Doll—and the media, resulting in failure and frustration, issues related to body image, eating disorders, and self-image.” Even with the manufacture of the doll realizing the impossible body proportions of Barbie, and the bad message it has been sending to children, people are still obsessed with attaining Barbie-level attention, and they’re even willing to go under the knife multiple times to do so.
Valeria Valeryevna Lukyanova, a 31-year-old Ukrainian model, has spent over $800,000 to look just like Barbie, as stated inHuffington Post article titled “Valeria Lukyanova Is A Real-Life Barbie Doll.” Lukyanova, is one of many to own the title of “human Barbie.” While Lukyanova is now changing her look to reflect fitness, rather than Barbie, the model still spent over five years dedicating her life to look like the plastic doll, even going as far as believing that one day she could live as a “breatharian,” the New Age practice of living solely off of air and sunlight.
Lukyanova isn’t the only one to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to be a part of the exclusive pink-only club. Ohio native Nanette Hammond, 42, has spent over $500,000 to look like Barbie, plus the thousands of dollars she spent getting a pink convertible car. “My husband Dave and my children are just so proud of me and what I’ve achieved through surgery. They think I look great — my life is better than Barbie’s now,” in the Cosmopolitan article titled “This Mom of 5 Has Had $500,000 of Plastic Surgery to Look Like Barbie,” Hammond has had “botox treatments, three breast augmentations, a breast lift, veneers, lip fillers, eyelash extensions, consistent spray tans, and consistent hair extensions and dye jobs.”
The list continues: 23-year-old Hannah Gregory, dubbed “Britain’s first human Barbie” in a METRO article written by Alison Lynch, which stated, “There’s a real-life Barbie living in Sheffield now.” Gregory, who hasn’t spent thousands of dollars changing her look, still admires the multiple Barbie appearances.
It isn’t just Barbie that has young individuals stirring. Ken has also made young men ready to jump onto the operating table. Former couple, Quentin Dehar, 24, and Anastasia Reskoss, 21, collectively spent approximately £222,000 to transform themselves into a real life rendition of the plastic couple, according to The Sun article, “Ken Does Not Like Brunettes! Human Ken doll Quentin Dehar who spent £92k to look like his idol has dumped his surgery-obsessed Barbie girlfriend … for dyeing her hair brown.” While the couple has called it quits, Dehar continues to shape his body to look like Ken, despite very serious health concerns: due to Dehar’s multiple nose jobs, his nose is now too small to effectively breath through.
33-year-old Brazilian Rodrigo Alves has spent over £300, 000 on plastic surgery to look like Ken is also facing serious breathing complications from his own nasal surgeries like Dehar. “After surgery, the body is vulnerable and, unfortunately, I caught a bacterial infection that ate the insides of my nose…I’m left with breathing problems,” according to 2016 The Sun article, “‘Flesh-eating bug at my nose,’ Man who spent £300,000 on plastic surgery to look like Ken reveals toll on health in new Channel 5 show.” This fascination with becoming real life Barbie and Ken has not only drained these people’s bank accounts, but could become a literal nail in their coffin with the amount of procedures alone plus the added bonus of side effects and complications.
The list of individuals who have decided to try their hand at build-a-bearing their appearance despite health concerns and Mattel changing the way that Barbie looks goes on. Even Barbie doesn’t even look like Barbie anymore, her own transformation can be seen from her initial release in ‘59’ to her most recent form, a 58 year difference, along with the new changes, including skin tones and body types.
It is ridiculous to cling to a Barbie that no longer exists. The doll has turned a once cute idea for a children’s toy into a reason to behave irrationally and see oneself as less than beautiful.