The Deception Of Marketing And Media

by Jacqueline on February 28, 2012 in Standing Firm, Training Ground for Mature Adult Character

clothing , off-the-rack merchandise, women's casual

“The average 3- to 10-year-old girl in the U.S. owns eight Barbies. Only one percent of this group owns no Barbies. And every girl seems to go through similar stages with her Barbies — first, adoration, next, ambivalence, and finally, rejection. By the time they’re in middle school, most girls have either thrown out their Barbies or cut off their hair and amputated multiple limbs. These aren’t just casual observations — a 2004 study observed that while young girls identify with Barbie, 10- to 14-year-olds have distanced themselves from Barbie.” This is according to Cognitive Daily, in 2006.

store mannequins in mall, women's clothing, deceptive marketing

The article continues: “But what of the recent media hype suggesting that Barbie promotes an unhealthy body image? What of careful measurements finding that a life-sized Barbie would be over seven feet tall, thinner than most anorexics, and physically unable to menstruate?”

Do the clothing industry and marketing firms know that most typical consumers are dissatisfied with their bodies and would like to look different than they do? Do they and the media we consume openly feed us lies?

We have a massive preoccupation with ‘thinner is better’. Almost everywhere we went as we shopped in a upscale mall in a metropolitan US city, we saw mannequins clothed in trussed-up off-the-rack merchandise. That is, pulled back and pinned or tied.

We found this to be a very widespread practice. The apparent fit we see on the mannequins isn’t really how the clothing is made at all. It is pinned and pulled back to give the illusion of tailored thinness, but each blouse or tee top is quite a bit bigger than what you think you are purchasing.

This goes for men’s as well as women’s clothing.

store mannequin with clothing article pinned for fit

store mannequin in mall, trendy clothing 2012


off-the-rack store merchandise on mannequins

Once we get this piece of clothing home and put it on, will we be unhappy with our body shape? ‘It looked so nice on the model’. Or have you ever spent hours trying on clothing only to go home depressed and frustrated?

Do we unconsciously or consciously compare ourselves to what we see in billboards, in catalogs, and on magazines in the checkout line at the grocery store. We can’t avoid seeing advertisements everywhere we go. We have a distorted idea of how we would like to look…it just seems to be unattainable.

clothing altered on mannequins to look thinner

No matter what we buy, we won’t be happy with our looks as long as we believe a lie. Did you know that after three minutes of looking at fashion magazines, 70% of women reported feeling guilty and inadequate? Have you ever feel that way? I know I have!

Did you know one study showed that…

  1. 24% of women would sacrifice 3 years of their life to be thin
  2. Girls as young as five have expressed fears of getting fat
  3. 90% of high school junior and senior girls diet regularly even though only between 10-15% are considered overweight.

clothing on store mannequin

This is the big body-image lie: “If I can change something about my body, others will finally like and accept me and I will be able to like and accept myself.” It is so easy to base our self-worth on our looks or appearance because it is the first thing others see in us.

We need to be armed with knowledge and capable of helping our young girls (and boys) to know that there is an real enemy who deals in lies and fakery; he lies through Media which is one of his useful tools! Let this short (1 min. 15 sec.) video clip, “Evolution”, expose the truth. Please watch and show your children!

There is a solution based in God’s Word. We need to uncover the lies we’ve been believing and replace them with the truth.

“Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” ~ John 8:32

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. ” ~ Psalms 139:14

“All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you.” ~Song of Solomon 4:7

 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on…  And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,  yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious… But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”    ~ Matthew 6: 25-34

Here are 5 powerful ways to be proactive: {Warning: This could be harder for the adults than for the children}. This is not by any means a complete list.

1.) Consider stopping catalogs/magazines coming to your home. This is a entry for exposure we often overlook. We stopped getting them years ago when I began comparing myself to what I saw. They also fed my materialism.

2.) Prayerfully consider getting rid of your TV or cable service. The internet is outside the scope of this post, but our whole family uses Covenant Eyes for all our accountability and filtering. We ALL love it and are so thankful for it!

3.) Pray about the dolls and toys your children play/identify with.

4.) Show the video above to your family and discuss it over a meal. Ask them what they have seen in our culture that seems fake or deceptive to them.

5.) Apply the Word of God and discuss what it means to trust in Him for our self-worth.

“The LORD your God is with you, HE IS MIGHTY TO SAVE. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” ~Zephaniah 3: 17


For 38 years, I have been a wife to my husband and a teacher of our children in the home. Now a new season has come, and with the blessing of my husband, I write this blog as an encouragement to myself and others. (Titus 2: 3-5) How important is this role of speaking into the lives of younger women! The habits of the home in one generation become the morals of society in the next. As William Ross Wallace said: “The hand that rocks the cradle, rules the world.”

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Jana February 28, 2012

I know this is not a post about dieting or nutrition but I’d love to point everyone to and obesity researcher named Zoë Harcombe. She used math and good science to debunk most of the common dietary advice we are given and show us how crazy it is. She has done an excellent presentation with the Weston A Price Foundation at the London 2011 December conference. There are several videos posted so scroll through till you get to hers. The others are worth listening to too but I think she has an important message to share:

Jacqueline @ February 28, 2012

Dear Jana,
Yes, we know of the Weston A. Price Foundation, and give it a thumbs up for good science and common sense. We have attended some of Sally Fallon’s seminars and have read many of Mary Enig’s articles. I will listen to Zoe and study her research. Thank you for sharing it here so more people might be able to make well-thought out decisions for their family and their bodies. Blessings to you

Linda February 28, 2012

I’m thankful to be in the one percent who does not own a Barbie. We are also staying away from girlie magazines like Young Miss as well. Great post!

Jacqueline @ February 28, 2012

Thank you, Linda, for your kind words. We never had a Barbie, either, but it wasn’t my wisdom that prevented it. By age 42, when we had our children, I had already seen the harm the image had causes some of our friend’s daughters.

Annalyn February 28, 2012

Thank you!

Here’s my blog on much the same topic. I’ve never had body image issues myself, but I know they’re out there and that they plague so many people- men, women, youth… It’s tragic, really, when society teaches us to hate one of the most precious gifts our Father has given us!

Michelle February 28, 2012

This only continues to point to the abnormalities of our world today. While the fashion industry is pushing us to be thinner, the food industry is growing non-food, cheaper, bigger and faster which by feeding us this junk is causing increases in the obesity rate of our country triple fold. We continue to get larger while the clothing continues to get smaller.

Jessica Y February 28, 2012

I’m not saying there isn’t some other purpose behind pinning back clothes on mannequins, but I would think this is a more of a practicality issue. It can’t be easy to stuff a stiff, unresponsive form into a form fitting outfit. Easier to put a bigger one on and then to adjust it after words. Also, pinned and attached outfits are more likely to stay neat and in place.

Melissa February 28, 2012

I love this and totally agree with everything except the Barbie issue. I know I might get some negative feedback but I grew up in a very conservative Christian home and I was allowed to play with Barbies. I could not have indecent clothing for them and I was not allowed to cut their hair (because we did/do not cut our hair). I spent many happy hours playing with them and played with them until I am embarrassed to mention the age!
I do not have an unhealthy body image and yes, even though I could be healthier, I have no desire to be stick thin. My husband doesn’t like me stick thin, either.
I allow my six year old to play with them as well, following the same guidelines my mother set up for me. I only allow clothing for the Barbies that follow the guidelines we set for my daughter. It can be hard to find that type of clothing but I was lucky and found some princess dresses that are long and decent and so if a new Barbie is brought in the house any indecent clothing is taken off and a new, decent outfit is put on. Same with baby dolls.
I love this blog and the resources here! Thank you for the encouragement while raising my daughter!

Jacqueline @ February 28, 2012

It sounds like you have it well thought out and that you are engaged with your daughter and teaching many values…that balance is so good. Thank you for your kind words.

Jenna February 28, 2012

I agree with the media hype that affects women’s images of themselves and have struggled with some of these issues. I like the tips at the end of this post also.

But on the Barbie thing, in my opinion, what 10-14 year old girls are still playing with any kind of doll these days? Very few. I actually played with my Barbies (and other dolls) into my early teens as well, but I liked to design clothes for them and sew them myself, also to replace the immodest clothes. The Barbies my daughter owns happen to be the ones that I owned growing up–they are all in great shape and with the same clothes I made.

I do love this blog and all the ideas and encouragement for raising righteous daughters (and sons) in a world that rejects such notions.

Mosey February 28, 2012

wow, the same “subject matter” was on our minds today! I just wrote about another angle of this same type of topic! (my daughter is and will stay in that 1% as well!)

Thank you for this… beautifully written

Katy P February 28, 2012

Great article. My mother raised me without Barbies and with the same principles you wrote about. I am doing the same with my two year old daughter.

Jerica @ Noble Women 4 Christ February 28, 2012

About a year ago we stopped going to the Malls. We felt there were more things unwholesome and hurtful to our spirits than there was good to be exposed to in them.

I unfortunately suffered from anorexia as a teenager. I grew up in a family with severally obese siblings, a parent and sever aunts and uncles. I would hear the snickers of others as we would walk through a store. People pointing and laughing saying, “Wow, look at that cow!” (Talking about my mother) It scarred me and left such a huge impression I vowed to myself I would never be overweight. I then took it to an extreme. Being about 5’5” I weighed a whopping 90lbs. No one ever saw me eat and when I did it was no more than 1/2 a cups worth of food. There were times I felt bad I ate.

Thankfully 10 years later I am able to have a healthy and biblical way of viewing my body. When I see photos now of what I once looked like my heart aches in knowing there are so many other girls and women out there battling the same lies satan told me.

In our home there have been times where my oldest daughter who is 4 would attempt to pitch a fit about something she was not wanting to wear. I simply would tell her, “Clothes are not meant to be a fashion show. We wear clothes simply to cover up our bodies and make ourselves presentable and pleasing in the Lord’s sight. We are not going to get upset because we don’t think a certain dress is not cute enough. We are to be thankful we have these modest clothes to put on our bodies and cover with.” This small fight went on for about a month or so but now if we are out and about and she happens to see a billboard she quickly turns to her younger siblings and says, “Look away that girl is wearing bad things and it is not good for our eyes to see.”

I believe guarding our hearts and especially our eyes as much as we can is so vitally important as well as filling our spirits with the truths of God’s Word. One verse that I have taught to my children is Psalm 139:14, “I will give thanks to You for I am, fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works and my soul knows it very well.”

Great post Jacqueline!!!

Jill's Home Remedies February 28, 2012

I love this! Thank you, Jacqueline! I had my girls watch this with me. It’s also easy for me to feel inadequate when I see models, and I want my girls to know the truth and what true beauty is.

Gail @ The Imperfect Housewife February 28, 2012

Wow. That is a powerful video! Thank you for sharing this. It is something that is always in the back of my head. My oldest child (and daughter) is 5. I make sure she knows she is beautiful just the way she is. We don’t do the ‘Barbie’ thing. I would much rather her play with Baby Dolls and pretend to be a Mama. 🙂

Kelley February 28, 2012

Thanks for this great post. I think it’s also really important not to get into those “I’m so fat” conversations with other women, especially in front of our daughters. In our house, I try to offer a balanced diet and push everyone out the door to play. That’s it. No stressing. No obsessing. Not about food, exercise, clothes–none of it. It’s just not allowed. Of course, my kids are still young, so it’s easy for my husband and me to set the tone. I can see that it will be more challenging in the years to come. Thanks again.

Mel @ Trailing After God February 28, 2012

I had never noticed the mannequins being pinned! Now I’ll notice it each time but I try to stay away from the mall etc because it makes me want things I wouldn’t normally desire. I do however, look at the mannequins to see how they’ve matched certain outfits together but that’s it. I am on the opposite side of the barbie issue. I had them growing up and I never, ever compared myself to barbie. The one thing that I find as perhaps inconsistent with the research quote above, is that most girls stop playing with dolls in general around 10-14 as they grow up and out grow them, not because they are barbies and give them a poor body image. I truly believe the only way we can have a positive body image is when we look to Christ for it and stay in His word. When I start looking elsewhere, I start seeing myself as the world sees me instead of how HE sees me. And that is something I will instill in my daughter. God didn’t make a mistake in our creation.

Heather :) :) :) February 28, 2012

I’ve seen that video clip many times. it’s really good!!! I think the key is really understanding who we are in Jesus Christ, because the truth is that if we are afraid/fearful of what others think of us, that means that our priorities are not in the right place. We should be more concerned about what God thinks of us, and He LOVES us so very much 🙂 🙂 Thanks for your great post, today. Love and hugs from the ocean shores of California, Heather 🙂

Becky February 28, 2012

SO great!!! I linked to this post on my blog (to show where I found the video- but can take it down if you want) as well as the Dove video because it is just AMAZING!! Thank you for this. I spent the weekend shopping with my mom and this just hit really close to home with how I have been feeling for about a year now. While I do need to lose weight for medical reasons, it’s hard to NOT compare yourself with other people and the mannequins when you are trying to shop. So this is actually a bit of a blessing in my life. Thank you!

Heather February 28, 2012

You know, I always hated that the store mannequins had their clothes clipped back. It always seemed so deceptive and they never looked the same on me in the dressing room.

We have never done the barbie thing. I have always thought she was an inappropriate role model for my daughter. We have done the American Girl dolls, but have found another company with dolls that I can whole-heartedly support. Their tag-line is ‘Princesses You Can Believe In’ and they talk about ‘Crowns for Christ.’ So I got my daughter one of their dolls for Christmas. Here’s the site if you think it’s appropriate (it’s not an affiliate link).

Cassandra Dorman February 28, 2012

Thank you for this post. We need more Godly women fighting for the truth when it comes to issues of beauty. I agree with a previous commenter about avoiding the mall. Our family doesn’t go to malls at all. We avoid ‘brand name’ stores all together. Of course these images affect the way we view ourselves… on top of that, our husbands and sons have to walk the stores with images of half-naked women just screaming at them to look.
Our family does not allow “Barbie”. We feel like we stand really alone in this choice. I don’t know a single other Christian family or has given Barbie the boot… I wrote a post a while back specifically about Barbie and I received very little feedback (unusual for a post with this kind of controversial theme). I think it may have hit a little close to home. I think Barbie is such a cultural ‘toy’ for girls, families are scared to say no to her… even if their gut tells them there’s something that doesn’t feel right. Here is the post –

Thanks again, (hug)
Cassandra @ The Unplugged Family

Cassandra Dorman February 28, 2012

Also, wanted to add – I actually facilitated 2 Dove Real Beauty workshops in our community… what an eye-opening experience. Having the chance to talk to young girls about their view of beauty and opening their eyes to the media’s lies… it was very interesting. These young girls have such a skewed view of love and acceptance. The most desired ‘traits’ for the majority of very young teens/tweens are shocking. They often pick being “skinny” and “famous” over traits like “honest” and “respected”.

Kristy Howard @ Little Natural Cottage February 28, 2012

I add a hearty AMEN to Jacqueline’s words! This is so true. The media and it’s lies slip into our Christian homes so unaware and wreak havoc on our contentment and personal worth.

Although I grew up playing with Barbies, I find that my little girls are quite happy without them. We have found several wonderful faith-based doll brands, including Life of Faith dolls, that are beautiful without being sensual. Baby dolls are always popular, as well. 🙂

I second the get-rid-of-the-TV suggestion. Our family is TV-free and so thankful to not have this media source pumping garbage into our home.

Excellent post!

Mooberry Farmwife February 28, 2012

I hadn’t seen this before, thank you so much for posting. I watched it with my children, the boys and the girls. I think that the boys need to be aware of the edited images we are trained to view as “beautiful” as well.

I am currently trying to lose a bit of weight after my recent pregnancy. However, I am certain to stress health as why mama exercises and eats carefully. I truly hope I am setting a good example for my children. We do not focus on “looks” but rather, taking care of ourselves.

Thank you for this wonderful post and video.

Everyday Mom February 29, 2012

I agree with some of this. Let’s not forget that there are many women (and men) who struggle with obesity because of food addictions. We eat for comfort. Maybe we should be seeking comfort from other areas of our life–like our relationship with God? Easier said than done. I know that. I agree with Michelle’s comment that the food industry is out of control (watch Food Inc–it’s very eye opening), I daresay many people don’t know how to eat healthy. My parents never taught me and their parents never taught them. I started eating healthy and counting calories not to get to this perfect image (though I have lost weight) and honestly I FEEL so much better. I struggle with anxiety and depression this time of year and it has helped combat some of the mood issues I face.

We are to honor God with our bodies. When it comes to that topic people refer to dressing modestly which I totally agree with. I believe reckless unhealthy eating falls into that “dishonoring” category too. People don’t really want to talk about that.

Jasmine February 29, 2012

Wonderful article, Jacqueline.

Books 'n Moderation February 29, 2012

I am a mom that does not allow my girl to have a Barbie. If she is at a friend’s house or somewhere else that’s different. She may play with it then. I heard of the Barbie issue when I was pregnant. I had a lot of baby dolls that I passed down to my daughter. Surprisingly my boys love to play with teddy bears. So between dolls and teddies we have quite a large collection. 🙂 Speaking of boys -they are another reason to not keep barbie in the house. They don’t need to see any more curvy figures then they already do. Even my daughter for that matter. She’ll get her curves soon enough 🙂 haha Thanks again for the article and for reminding my why I don’t do barbies!

stephanos February 29, 2012

Pro 4:25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee.

Psa 119:37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.

Gal 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.
Gal 5:14 For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Gal 5:15 But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another.
Gal 5:16 This I say then, Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfil the lust of the flesh.
Gal 5:17 For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other: so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.
Gal 5:18 But if ye be led of the Spirit, ye are not under the law.

Avoid the stare or interest in what these deceivers in the media pour out at us. Those who are spiritually blind may be taken by force by such means, and even those who are taught in the Word can fall into these mischiefs, but avoidance is a good tactic that defuses the effectiveness of these subliminal lies. Nevertheless, walking in the Spirit keeps us from fulfilling the lusts of the flesh; stay near to God.

Jacqueline March 1, 2012

Thank you, Stephanos, for those wonderful Scriptures! They are words of LIFE. Many blessings, my friend, in Jesus!

Nancy Schmidt February 29, 2012

Thank you for this insightful article. I would like if possible to add another point to the “Barbie” issue. First I will say that our girls (I have nine children five of which are girls from age 19-6yrs) started out with Barbie but when our oldest girl was about 6 my husband and I began to be “bothered” with her (Barbie). The dolls seemed to be a distraction to our sons. You know as they are being dressed or when they were carelessly left without clothes. We decided this really wasn’t healthy for our boys (nor our girls). This issue along with the vanity/body image issue of Barbie caused us to “discontinue” her. The girls were disappointed at first, but when we explained carefully our concerns they were soon fine. We also noticed that when Barbie was around the girls didn’t especially want to play with baby dolls. I much prefer my girls (and even boys) to role play with babies than Barbie.

peggy March 1, 2012

I am so glad to have this video to show my daughters – thank you!

Patricia March 1, 2012

Thx for posting this reminder that even the models don’t look like the models. A friend of mine was a ballerina and decided to try some modeling on the side. I watched as they literally stuffed her size three body into size zero jeans, and then had to place her in the desired poses because she could barely breathe and was completely unable to move herself! What an eye opening experience this was for us as teens. We’ve never taken another ad seriously since–but many others are unnecessarily deceived and discouraged by the blatant lies of the advertising world.

Amy March 28, 2012

With the obesity problems in America, I’d say that thinking that thin is ideal body is not a bad thing. Most people do try on clothes before buying them…so I’d say that mannequins aren’t really being deceptive. They try to show the clothes in their best light, which is line and form. I’ve had friends who were live models in store windows, which is a better idea, but MUCH more expensive than putting a size 6 outfit on a size 0 model (which is what is going on.)

Niki at For Journey's Sake February 21, 2013

I played with Barbies as a little girl and don’t remember having any difficulties. We bought Barbies for our girls, but have gotten rid of them in the last year or so. Our oldest is too old to play with them and never really liked them, but our oldest daughter liked them. We began praying about getting rid of them and I began using them to teach my daughter about modesty, etc. With much prayer and a gentle nudge, she chose to get rid of them at the age of 6. We have filled that gap with Vision Forum’s 18″ dolls and others like that. She loves playing with them!

Since there is too much emphasis placed on looks in our culture today, it is good to find toys that encourage the values we are trying to teach our children. That goes for movies, TV, and books, etc.

Very well-written post. Thanks, Jacqueline!

breanna February 18, 2014

I agree that barbies are harmful to young girls. I had a beautiful mother and played with over 20 dolls into my teens. I was always very thin naturally as a child, when I hit puberty my body filled out and I felt fat, even though I wasn’t. I developed eating disorders that lasted from age 17- 23. God helped me change my perception of what makes a woman beautiful. Barbies become a standard in a child’s mind, when a child dresses and feels a toy body it leaves an impression, then all the ads, movies, magazines and such just re-afirm to young girls what beauty looks like. This happend to me anyway.

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