What Would Barbie Do? How to Love More than Just your Body

Let’s face it Barbie is a cultural icon. There aren’t too many people who are known on a first-name only basis. She’s in the category with Elvis, Beyoncé, and Oprah. To make matters worse—she’s perfect. She’s 54 years old and super sexy. She has a perfect body, perfect hair, and a perfect life with boyfriend Ken. Do we have any haters yet? Maybe you have a few Barbie’s in your life. Maybe she’s the girl at the gym, your boss, or your best friend. It’s hard to be around someone you think has everything and not be envious, especially in today’s body obsessed culture. But if Barbie were real, I bet she’d have plenty to say about the pressure she’s been under over the last 54 years—all in the name of being “perfect.” Even the best of us get tired of being on our “A” game all the time. What are some of the problems Barbie’s run into over the years? For starters, she has to dress up and look perfect everyday. Then there’s her hair. Have you noticed it always looks like she just stepped out of the salon? For years people have been criticizing her for making everyone else feel too fat.  She’s even been in a number of lawsuits. And then there are her relationship issues. Barbie has been dating Ken since 1961 and she’s still not married. Hmmm…. what’s up with that? Sounds like she’s had to tackle some commitment issues with Ken. The point is this; Barbie’s spent years being judged on her appearance, and not unlike you and me she’s probably pretty tired of it. So how does the average girl learn to feel good about herself and learn to focus on more than her body image?

Here are some ideas:

Look inward

We’ve all heard “beauty is only skin deep” but most of us don’t live like it’s true. It’s so easy to get sucked up into focusing on the externals that we have to watch for the things that trigger us to do so. Practice cultivating things like gratitude and simplicity in your life. Notice what triggers you to feel down about yourself or your body, and try to avoid filling your mind with that stuff. Spend time getting to know who you are by practicing silence, solitude and meditation. Find your gifts and use them, it will help to develop your inner self.

Challenge the cultural norms

Don’t buy into the status quo about body image, youth and beauty. Be outspoken about health and wellness. Challenge others who obsess about looks, weight and body image. Be more interested in what’s on the inside than the outside. That confidence will show through!

Be fearless

We have to hand it to Barbie; she’s been fearless all these years with all the criticism that’s come her way. If you want to make a difference in a body obsessed culture, you have to speak out boldly about things that matter more. Be known as someone who cares about things of eternal value. Invest in things that will make you a better person. Give generously to others. Find your passion and use it to make a difference.

Don’t take yourself so seriously

Laugh. It’s the best medicine there is. We get so freaked out about our hair, our skin, our appearance, our weight and what we’re wearing, we can’t even enjoy our lives. So what if you gain a few pounds after the holidays, you can always loose them. If you’re putting too much pressure on yourself about the externals, it’s time to switch gears and assess where you’re putting your source of value.

Be grateful

We hear plenty of talk about gratitude these days, but how many of us actually practice it when it comes to our bodies? We are super- critical of them, we wish we had someone else’s, and we take every opportunity available to put them down. It really shouldn’t be this way. Try making a gratitude journal for your body. Be thankful you’re healthy when so many others aren’t  If you’re always critical of a particular part, think about the function of that body part and be grateful it works! At the end of the day the only things that will last are the things we can’t take with us. They’re the eternal qualities of the heart. Start today and dare to stand out. Dare to be different, and dare to develop the parts of yourself that will make you a person that others will want to follow. If Barbie’s been rockin it for over 50 years, so can you! Back at you: Have you looked to your body image to define you, and if so, what problems is it causing you?

About the Author

Rita A. Schulte is a licensed professional counselor in the Northern Virginia/DC area. She is the host of Heartline Podcast and Consider This. Her show airs on several radio stations as well as the Internet. They can be downloaded from www.ritaschulte.com/category/podcast or heard on Women’s Radio Network, as well as iTunes at Heartline Podcast. Rita writes for numerous publications and blogs. Her articles have appeared in Counseling Today Magazine, Thriving Family, and Christianity Today, Kyria. Her book Shattered: Moving Beyond Broken Dreams releases in September 2013 by Leafwood Publishers. Follow her at www.ritaschulte.com, on FB http://www.facebook.com/RitaASchulte and twitter @heartlinepod.