There was a very big stereotype that Barbie, you know, the perfectly figured blonde haired beauty was just that, outter beauty. She wasn’t known for being smart or intellectual. Every girl not only wanted a Barbie doll, but they wanted to be Barbie. Why? Well, who wouldn’t? Barbie had this incredible “dream home” a silver corvette, a gorgeous boyfriend named Ken, not to mention all the fabulous clothes and accessories. Her plastic world looked so good, little girls couldn’t help but want to be just that.
And the marketing. Well, they sure did a hell of a job because you couldn’t watch any children’s tv show without seeing a commercial for the latest Barbie or Barbie dream life addition: jacuzzi, jeep, jumbo jet etc. Ladies, try to think back to when you were kids. Was there this big of a hype for Nancy Drew? I didn’t think so. Can you think of any other female that had such a huge influence on girls growing up?
Well, looking back on that, then thinking about guys as they became adults, Hugh Hefner and his beautiful blonde arm candy became desirable to many men, it’s easy to see how the two sort of morphed together. It formed this culture of women who were expected to be “seen and not heard,” and to basically be the perfect “arm candy.” You show up at the events the men attend (mostly just to show off their latest edition), look as beautiful as you can, act as graceful and charming as possible, and don’t embarrass him.
If you grew up having major self esteem issues, or always felt you were the ugly duckling, but then suddenly, as you get older, your looks start attracting more attention, it’s very easy to fall into this type of world. It’s the world you watched from afar, always wanted to be part of but never imagined you could be. Yet, suddenly, there you are. It’s fun for awhile, not going to lie, but, there is a part of you that IS intelligent. That IS smart and IS successful in your career of choice (not the arm candy career). As time goes by and you get older, things have now completely flip flopped. You never imagined this would happen.
You want people to notice you for your accomplishments, your success, your intelligence, not just your outter appearance. Now, whenever you are approached, you get a little sick inside because you know that 9 times out of 10 this person doesn’t give a crap about who you are or what you do. They don’t care what you’ve done or how educated you are. They see your looks and that’s all.
Good grief. If I could get a snapshot of the look on every one of their faces when they ask one of these questions and I respond with my answer, what a collection I would have.
Q: So, what do you do for a living?
A: I was a litigation paralegal for about seven years. (Priceless look of astonishment here thinking I’m not old enough for that)
Q: Did you go to school for that?
A: (casually) Yea. I got my bachelor of science in paralegal studies, and a Bachelor of Arts in criminal justice, then I also did a year of law school. (Priceless look of astonishment as they had confessed earlier that they had either gotten only an associates or had not gone to college at all)
Q: So, how old ARE you then? I thought you were like 25.
A: Aw. Thank you. That’s so sweet. I’m 33.
Q: (looks at left hand) And you’re not married?
A: Divorced. (Another flabbergasted look)
Q: So, what do you do now?
A: I’m a mental health blogger. I run two websites for people with mental health issues such as bipolar disorder like myself. (Look of terror)
Q: Well, that sounds interesting. My buddy over there is all by himself and I feel bad, so I have to go.
A: Bye ( I now have a big smile on my face, and my friends laugh)
Sure, it sounds funny, and yes, there are women out there who rely completely on their looks and are perfectly content with that. That is THEIR choice. My choice, however, is that yes, my looks may grab attention faster than others, BUT, I do not want my relationships with others to be based on my outward appearance. I have a whole lot to offer inside.
Do I have a mental illness? YES. I’m not going to lie and say I don’t. Does that make relationships harder at times, of course it does. Does it change the fact that I am well educated? NO. Does it change the fact that I am a damn good paralegal? NO. Does it prevent me at times from performing those duties? YES. That is why I am on disability. But, just because there is a patch of time that I am unable to perform those duties doesn’t take away from all the work I did prior.
AND JUST BECAUSE I HAVE A MENTAL ILLNESS DOES NOT MEAN THAT EVERYTHING INSIDE OF ME IS COMPROMISED. It doesn’t mean that now all I have left to rely on is my looks and being “arm candy” again.
Mental Illness does not destroy everything inside of you UNLESS YOU LET IT!!! If you fight back and say that you are not going to let it control you and you are going to control IT, you can still get back to the person you were.
Lastly, just because at one point in your life, you were viewed as “arm candy” or treated like Barbie, doesn’t mean that there isn’t more to you inside, and that there aren’t people out there who will see it. I’m not going to lie and say it’s easy to tell them apart, because it’s not. You just have to stay true to yourself and not let the “perks” of the “arm candy” lifestyle sweep you away initially. Because you know the perks are really nice at first, but they get really old, REALLY FAST. Don’t let yourself get stuck. I did, way too many times, and looking back, I wish I would have checked out of that sooner.
Being Barbie isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, but don’t think for a second that that is all you have to offer. It’s not!
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