What if we’re not “Barbie perfect”?

Jan 19, 2024

Each year, as part of the magazine I create for the Embrace Your Beauty Project for Fierce and Fabulous Women Over 40, I write a Letter from the Photographer. Looking back at the year, it seemed fitting that the topic of the letter would be Barbie. This is the letter:



2023 was the year of Barbie. When Barbie came into the scene, little girls and women alike wanted to look like Barbie (and men wanted their women to look like Barbie too). The doll itself was groundbreaking, yes, becoming the first non-baby doll for girls, as well as inspiring the next generation of girls to be whatever they wanted to be in their careers. But the doll was also criticized for having unrealistic body proportions, as well as not being inclusive with regard to color, size, culture and ability.

The most popular doll of our time was founded on these physical characteristics: tall, lean, smooth skin, perky breasts, blonde, and white.

In the movie, character Sasha says to Barbie: “You’ve been making women feel bad about themselves since you were invented. You represent everything wrong with our culture, like sexualized capitalism and unrealistic physical ideals. You destroyed girls’ innate sense of worth.”

Unrealistic physical ideas are hard enough to meet when we are young, but once we cross to the other side of 40, it’s as if we are being told that if we have a few more wrinkles, age spots, gray hairs, and roundness to our bodies, we are less valuable. We stop seeing our faces and our bodies represented in magazines, commercials, and movies.

We are made to feel that if we aren’t Barbie perfect, then we are less beautiful.
But that’s just not true.

Later in the movie, when Barbie met Ruth (the inventor of Barbie), Barbie was feeling less than because she wasn’t looking as perfect as typical. Ruth said to Barbie, “I think you’re just right.”

The Embrace Your Beauty Project was started to change the narrative around what beauty OVER the age of 40 looks like. We don’t have to be or look perfect, we don’t have to be any unrealistic beauty ideal. We are all JUST RIGHT just as we are.

Just as we all evolve throughout our lives, Barbie has evolved too, challenging the unrealistic body ideals expected of women. Barbie now embraces a wider range of skin tones, body sizes, and gender expressions. Barbie continues to become more inclusive and diverse each year, embracing the full beauty of ALL women.

The Embrace Your Beauty Magazine is a tribute to the courageous women who said yes to seeing themselves differently and embracing their full beauty just as they are.