The short story Barbie-Q by Sandra Cisneros is about a young girl who longs to have the perfect barbie or to be honest any barbie to add to her collection would do since she did not have many. Young girls have always been marketed to by the toy industry to buy barbies. “The average American girl between the ages of three to eleven owns ten Barbie dolls”(Barbie And Body Image). At the youngest age of three, girls and their parents are marketed to by TV and toy ads to own barbie dolls. The average girl also grows up knowing what the barbie doll body image is and most of these young girls feel the need to live up to these expectations. “The effects of Barbie and body image run deeper than you might imagine” (Barbie And Body Image). With that being said Cisneros short story also runs deeper than a girl buying some barbies at a flea market.
In the short story Barbie Q the barbies were very flawed and not new in the box, they smelled like smoke because they were in a warehouse fire and when the firefighters put the fire out the boxes also got soaked in water. “Everybody today selling toys, all of them damaged with water and smelling of smoke” (Cisneros 15). Even though the barbie dolls were flawed the girl did not care because she at least had some “new” dolls to play with that had dresses and other accessories to cover those flaws up. “And if the prettiest doll, has a left foot that’s melted a little—so? If you dress her in her new ‘Prom Pinks’ outfit, satin splendor with matching coat, gold belt, clutch, and hair bow included, so long as you don’t lift her dress right?— who’s to know” (Cisneros 16). This to me shows how society tells young girls that if you aren’t perfect in societies eyes you need to cover it up because certain flaws are not acceptable. “They teach children that it is desirable to be thin, white, and blonde. They may encourage children to strive for an unrealistic body image” (Barbie And Body Image). From when young girls start learning they are taught that women have this “ideal image” to live up to and that is wrong. Barbie-Q is showing us that girls are never to young to absorb this horrible image of women. Young girls don’t even realize how brain washed they are by playing with barbies. They end up with this mindset that they must have this perfect body image, perfect clothes, and perfect makeup just like Barbie.
The young girl in the story, though, did not give in to society’s horrible expectations. She said, “So what if our barbies smell like smoke when you hold them to your nose even after you wash and wash and wash them.” (Cisneros 16). She still thinks that the barbies are pretty and that they are okay to play with even though they are damaged a little— they are still ‘Barbie’ right? It’s okay to not be perfect and I think this young girl understands that even at a young age because even though she has to buy damage barbies at the flea market at at discount price, she doesn’t put down the barbies or even feel bad for herself because her parents can’t afford to buy brand new barbies. In today’s society young girls beat themselves up because they feel like they won’t be popular if they don’t have the newest barbie or prettiest hair or the nicest clothes. We as a society need to change that expectation of girls so it can help them with their self esteem and so they don’t feel like they always have to impress someone and be ‘perfect’ all the time. Young girls need to have the same mindset of this girl in this story. The only way to start instilling that is parents and teachers teaching young girls to value themselves.
When I was younger I used to have a ton of barbies, you can say I was pretty obsessed with them just like every other young girl. So I could relate to the young girl in the story not only because she loved barbies, but also because my parents got me barbies and extra accessories at the flea market or yard sales because they were cheaper. I was always begging for more barbies and accessories to add to my collection so the only way my parents could afford that was to buy used ones or ones on sale. To me that was good enough because I at least had toys to play with and I could care less at that age if they were new or not. A lot of young girls are pressured to always have the newest nicest things and I think Barbie Q is showing that it is not always reality for a lot of girls or families to provide some luxuries to their children. It wasn’t for me and I was content and happy growing up, but that was because my parents showed me that it was okay to not be perfect and have everything. We need to realize that a lot of young girls in society now are pressured to be something they aren’t body image wise and having nice things. If our arents or educators don’t instill in us as young children that it is okay to not be perfect and it is okay to not have every nice thing in the world we are being failed and will always have those expectations to be something we are not.
In conclusion, in the short story Barbie-Q Cisneros shows that society has this ideal image of women which is to have a perfect look. I feel like Cisneros is in a way expressing her hardships as a child and growing up in a society with this view of being perfect. Women being materialistic and perfect, is having beautiful hair, skin, makeup, smile and then the perfect expensive name brand clothes to go along with the perfect body. But, that is far from the truth and not reality. Not everyone is rich and can afford nice things, and all women come in all different shapes and sizes and that is perfectly okay. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ woman.
“Barbie And Body Image.” Eating Disorder Help. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Apr. 2017.
Cisneros, Sandra. Barbie Q. New York: Vintage, 1992. Print.