Barbie Made Me Feel Embarrassed To Have Nipples

She may condition little girls to question their measurements, but I was more concerned with not having nipple-less breasts like hers.

May 13, 2013 at 12:00pm | Leave a comment

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I wanted big boobs long before I managed to grow them. As soon as I was aware of them as something many men find attractive, they were on top of my prepubescent wish list.

I vividly remember my 10-year-old self being enviously mesmerized by Meredith Salenger’s leotard-clad, busty figure in 1989’s Corey-and-Corey classic, Dream A Little Dream. Even earlier in my childhood, when I played with my Barbies, I’d often put one in a particularly stretchy dress I had in my doll wardrobe, and I’d stuff other Barbie clothing into the dress above the elasticized waist to make her look top-heavier.

They say a wish comes true only if you keep it a secret, and I definitely didn’t tell anyone that I wanted to be buxom when I grew up; I also definitely got my wish. By the time I was 13, I was a full C cup; by college, I was a D.


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With my friend Heather at age 16. “They” may be onto something with this keeping-wishes-a-secret thing.

Even today, hovering somewhere around a 36DD, I look at voluptuous bombshells like Christina Hendricks and find myself wishing I could fill out an F or G cup without needing surgery to make it happen. It straddles the line between pipe dream and fetish.

But let’s go back to Barbie for a sec. Yeah, yeah, she probably contributed to my weight insecurities like with every other little girl ever; but what I really remember thinking must be “wrong” with me, based on Barbie’s body, was my nipples.

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One of my niece's Barbie dolls. Looks pretty different from my '80s ones, but she still doesn't bear the ghastly burden of nipples.


Barbie looks so pretty without them. So smooth. So uniform. Wouldn’t I be prettier, I thought, if I just had two ample mounds with no peachy-pink… tips?

I wondered this well past the playing-with-dolls age and well into boobedness.

I received my fair share of attention from male middle-school classmates when I returned from the summer between sixth and seventh grade with no braces and different measurements. Getting to second base for the first time happened shortly into the new school year.

It happened at my house, and I was very nervous; but it wasn’t just because I was afraid of getting caught by one of my parents. I was worried that the boy would feel one of my nipples and say, “What’s this bump? Gross.” I was sure that guys wanted to touch Barbie-esque, nipple-less flesh.

It wasn’t long before I started to understand their pleasurable benefits, but I was still convinced that my nipples, which are textbook average looking, were essentially deformities. I understood that everyone has them, but they still made me very anxious and uneasy.

My anxiety was even worse the first time I got to what was (and perhaps still is?) called “sloppy second base” my freshman year of high school. I remember telling my then-boyfriend, Andy, as he lifted my shirt, to “Keep your eyes closed.”

At this point, I was self-conscious not only about the existence of my nipples, but also a few practically invisible hairs that had emerged around the areola. Barbie definitely didn’t have any of those.

Somehow, in spite of my nipple hang-ups, my sexuality evolved to become very breast-centric, and I eventually came to accept nipples as not just something that feel good to me but look and feel good to the men I let see and touch them.

I’d be lying if I said that positive attention and compliments didn’t help. A few guys have called them “perfect,” but even in adulthood, I’ve noticed my inner monologue comes up with qualifying replies like, Yeah, for nipples, maybe.

I truly don’t understand how something I was so mortified to even have on my body became such a central part of my sexual enjoyment. Even today, I like the look of my cleavage more than that of my naked breasts, but I’m no longer embarrassed about how they look, which is exactly how they’re supposed to look.

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I'm glad I have nipples now, but I'm not going to post a picture of them on the internet. So here's my cleavage. (More on Instagram!)


Barbie would probably look silly with little painted-on nipples, but no sillier than if her body was more realistic in every other way. That body has definitely had a negative impact on the collective female self-esteem, but with so many other unattainable representations in the media, it can’t take all the blame for overall body image issues.

However, I can’t think of a single additional example of anything that could have influenced me to believe that the mere existence of my nipples made my breasts less attractive, so Barbie can take all the blame for that.

Am I the only one who felt like this? What weird ways did Barbie mess with your head?