“Normal is beautiful” sends ugly message

The Southerner

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

By Jordan Schuster

Do you know a woman that is 7 feet 2 inches tall and weighs but 100 pounds? Ever seen a girl with a neck twice the average length and with measurements around 39-23-33? I am willing to bet that you have not, that no one has. If such a woman did exist, her feet would be too small to hold up her body and her core too weak to hold up her chest.

Well in a way, you have seen a girl like this.

If Barbie was life size, she would be an anatomical catastrophe. Her mental and physical health would be disastrous, preventing her from lifting her head, standing, and having children.

But we call Barbie beautiful. We hold her as the standard for elegance and the epitome of womanhood, not only through our words but through our actions. We buy her, consistently and globally. Over 1 billion Barbie dolls have been sold since her creation in 1959. We give her to young girls whose minds are developing and cementing their image of how they and other women should look and dress. Our qualms are sated by her many races and her empowered jobs, but no dream car or mega-mansion can make up for her impossible figure.

When Nickolay Lamm introduced his Lammily design of “Normal Barbie”, critics of the original doll such as myself rejoiced. The proportions of the new plastic girl are the same as the proportions of the average nineteen-year-old American girl.

How does she look? Normal. In her figure, I see my own, a touch of curves but nothing comparable to her predecessor, a silhouette that can run and jump and still be beautiful.

His line of toys was intended to be revolutionary, and in many ways it is, but the motto gives me pause, even reproach.

The doll is tagged with the slogan “Normal is beautiful.”

While I understand Lamm’s point and come from the same place, I do not think that this is the coup he had planned. Yes, normal can be beautiful, and it is futile to expect a woman who even begins to resemble that infamous plastic shell. Thank you, Nickolay Lamm, for now we can rejoice in the wonderful averageness of ourselves at last!

But what I hear in the slogan is propaganda for conformity, a sentence that says that looking different is not beautiful. I know this is not what Lamm meant, but I believe that we cannot tell this to future generations without consequences.

I stand out. My appearance is different from that of everyone around me. Does that mean I am less beautiful than those people? I am pale, wonderfully white, absolutely alabaster. I am happy with that. I have no cliché story of overcoming insecurities , trudging along a trail of tears until one day the clouds parted and I found truth and light. Honestly, I cannot remember a time in which I ever cared about my skin. I guess it was just too thick for anything to get to me. Sure I have used my weight in sunscreen and I avoid most pictures with a flash, but standing out was never important.

However, what if when I was young, I heard in commercials and saw on billboards “Normal is beautiful”? How would I feel? I would look around and see that I am not tan and I am not normal, just I do now. But rather than value my individuality, I would hate it, feel the need to get a spray tan or skin cancer. My large nose would be an embarrassment and everything I consider unique would be, in a word, ugly.

So here is what I propose: Natural is beautiful. Let’s instill in the next generations that you are gorgeous the way that you are, unaltered and unembarrassed.

The global beauty market, which consists of cosmetics, surgeries, and the like, is projected to be worth $630 billion dollars in 2017. Why do we even need to wear makeup? Should not we be praised for the natural graces that we possess instead of the amount of fish scales and powdered rocks we can apply? 10 million women in the United States suffer from anorexia or bulimia. Why do we prefer the way our bodies are shaped with binging or starving over a healthy diet and exercise? What is gained by being underweight? Or at the other end of the spectrum, being overweight? In 2012 in the United States, over one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese. In many communities, obesity is accepted as the norm. Can we tell the youth that the unhealthy lifestyles are beautiful even when they are unnatural and eventually fatal? Why should we let obesity be acceptable and let it ruin the lives and bodies of more children?

I probably sound like just another voice among thousands crying out against the shackles of society around women and their self esteem, but I will never apologize for supporting original beauty over fake looks. The subject is tired, but before it is put to rest, let me say this: To society, I am beautiful exactly the way I am. To Mr. Lamm, let’s teach girls a better lesson. And to Barbie, have a doughnut.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email