Barbie at 50: Do Patients Want to Look Like Barbie?

Barbie is an icon of feminine beauty that seems to mirror our society's obsession with youth and appearance. No matter how old she gets, Barbie stays firm, slim, pert, and pouty. Do you think Barbie has in some ways led to patients requesting impossible dimensions and hard-to-maintain youthful appearances?

Doctor Answers 7

Barbieless in Seattle

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Fortunately, the vast majority of my patients are not requesting impossible dimensions or hard-to-maintain youthful appearances. Most of us in the cosmetic industry occasionally see a patient with BDD (body dysmorphic disorder) or those with unrealistic expectations, and hopefully we have the common sense to refuse treatment.

Thankfully, most patients (at least here in Seattle) are well educated, realistic with their expectations, and want to maintain a natural look.

Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 231 reviews

Happy Birthday, Barbie! Honestly, I do not think that...

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Happy Birthday, Barbie!

Honestly, I do not think that Barbie, the doll, has led patients to requesting hard-to-maintain appearances. There are many reasons why we strive to maintain youthful appearances: media pressure (digitally enhanced photos in magazines and use of very young models), competition in the job market, the importance of appearances in the entertainment industry (especially in Los Angeles and New York), longer lifespans, positive reinforcement from peers, having children at a later age, etc., but Barbie isn't one of them.

Barbie is a doll that little girls (and some boys) like to play with. She comes in different skin shades and has different careers. That seems to me to be a positive influence. I don't think it would be fun for young girls to play with old, realistic looking dolls. What do you think?

Jonathan Hoenig, MD
Beverly Hills Oculoplastic Surgeon

Bad Girl Barbie ! BAD Girl....

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

I disagree with many of your statements in :"Barbie is an icon of feminine beauty that seems to mirror our society's obsession with youth and appearance. No matter how old she gets, Barbie stays firm, slim, pert, and pouty. Do you think Barbie has in some ways led to patients requesting impossible dimensions "

society's obsession with youth and appearance - Nothing new here. This "obsession" dates back to prehistorical times. Our "society" (actually a conglomerate of MANY societies which interact more than ever before) is NOT unique in seeking beauty and attractiveness. Go back to Ancient Greece and Ancient Egypt and much earlier - nothing much has changed in how humans function

Barbie is an icon of feminine beauty - If an "icon" is defined as a representation, A representation or picture of a sacred or sanctified Christian personage, traditionally used and venerated, An important and enduring symbol, One who is the object of great attention and devotion - Personally, I do not encounter many women who really want to look like her. or who worship that look. Although many feminist set up a classic straw man to attack with this argument.

No matter how old she gets, Barbie stays firm, slim, pert, and pouty.- You and I would do if we were made of an silastic silicone elastomer which does not have to constantly renew itself and is subject to a host of predatory diseases and destructive aging processes...

Do you think Barbie has in some ways led to patients requesting impossible dimensions? - We ALWAYS MADE our own Gods.

While earlier ancestors worshiped sun gods, wind gods and thousands of other deities, we have narrowed such FORMAL god worship to several monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and several others (Hindu, Zoroaster ism, Shinto etc) with agreed upon deities and rules.

When it comes to the FASHION GODS, humans have been fickle and their taste in such deities changes with time. Consider the obese buxom fertility goddesses of neolithic Europe with the slinky anorexic babes ambling on the fashion runways of Milan, Paris and New York.

Put another way - Barbie is NOT telling us how to look. Nor did Barbie come out of a vacuum (or like Venus was born our of the foam of the sea waves) - she was a GREAT GUESS at what girls wanted. Barbie sells because that is HOW some girls want to look.

MEN to do pick fashions or "looks" for women - women do so in a complex fashion which means Billions to the cosmetic and fashion industries. Moreover, BEAUTY and ATTRACTIVE SHAPES are NOT random they are genetically coded in each one of us. Babies ALREADY can tell beautiful from ugly.

See .

As to - Do you think Barbie has in some ways led to patients requesting impossible dimensions - No, I do not. Just as some people order bogus weight loss, hair growth, penis lengthening, cellulite reducing devices off the Internet and cheesy ads in backs of magazines - Many people, regardless of gender - have unrealistic expectations both of what is feasible and what impact it may have on their lives. The KEY is education, education and yes - education with a dose of reality.

Good Luck.

Peter A Aldea, MD, FACS

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon

You might also like...

It seems that many people in our society have an...

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

It seems that many people in our society have an obsession with youth for beautiful appearance. The toy Barbie doll is one example of this. She has been an icon for the last four decades because she stays "perfect".

Do you think that Barbie has, in some way, led to unrealistic expectations in patients ?
We often have patients requesting impossible dimensions and difficult to maintain youthful appearances. The motto of my cosmectic dermatology practice is "Looking Good and Feeling Great!" So what is realistic in achieving and keeping this goal?

I really applaud the mindset behind the campaign of Dove products that focuses on real women, real shape, real life. This idea should be our focus. In my practice, I advise my patients to have two goals when it comes to outcomes for any type of cosmetic dermatology procedure.

  1. I want the patient's friends and family to have a pleasant reaction. They will notice that "something looks better." However, the change should be subtle enough that most of them will be unaware of exactly what was done.
  2. The patient should look and feel better and be more confident about their appearance.

I do not endeavor to make a patient look unrealistically younger than their age. But I would like to have my patients feel fantastic for their age. In the practice of cosmetic medicine, if the procedures are pushed too far, appearance can end up looking odd and strange. We have all seen pictures of some people, many of them stars or celebrities, that are examples of this. By trying to look younger than their chronological age, they do not look normal. They may even look weird.

So, in conclusion, when it comes to the unattainable images that are portrayed in the magazines with airbrushed photos, and in the movies using special make-up, camera angles and computer generated techniques... let us stop and ask "What is real?" Let's be proud to look good, and be real,... and feel great.

Charles E. Crutchfield III, MD
Minneapolis Dermatologic Surgeon

Barbie has been around for a very long time, and only...

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Barbie has been around for a very long time, and only recently has the desire for facial rejuvenation become main-stream. Patients now are smarter and understand that the best results are more natural and soft because of less invasive procedures and the fact that patients are PREVENTING the signs of aging by beginning procedures sooner.

Truly with aging, an ounce of prevention is worth the pound of cure. Women today really understand that looking younger is not a procedure, but a process that includes good nutrition, sun protection, and a myriad of non-invasive procedures.

Mary P. Lupo, MD
New Orleans Dermatologist
5.0 out of 5 stars 18 reviews

Do patients want to look like Barbie?

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
I think natural looking plastic sugary is more demand now than ever. It used to be that plastic surgery used to be taboo, but the results were often anything but subtle. Today, more people are open about having work "done" but when selecting the right surgeon, the result is often very natural, with the result looking refreshed, happy and rejuvenated.

It is a great time for men and women as 50 is the new 30, or at least something younger than the 50 of our youth. People are living longer, taking care of themselves and wanting to look as healthy, happy and vibrant as they feel. 

Michael Law, MD
Raleigh-Durham Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 123 reviews

I don't see much influence

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

We all want to look good unless very eccentric.  On my website I have a chapter on "vanity" which I would recommend as a realisitic way of viewing body image, including occasional plastic surgery.

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.