Barbie’s Dream Body

by Theresa Spranger, Bioethics Program Alumna (MSBioethics 2012)

When you were a kid did you ever want to look like Barbie?  No?  Me neither…her breasts were too big and her waist too small.  I always figured she would break in half in real life, or at least have chronic back pain.

Blondie Bennett though, has always dreamed of becoming a real life Barbie doll.  She says that she was obsessed with Barbie as a kid and has modeled her life after the doll. Blondie-Bennett-poses-for-a-photograph-in-Los-Angeles-3161482

Now 38, she has had five breast enhancement surgeries and at this point makes Dolly Parton look “natural”.  She also has regular Botox injections and lip fillers to make her appear plastic and doll like.  Believing that “natural is boring,” she has gone to extremes to make herself into a living doll.

The most extreme of her actions is to participate in hypnotherapy sessions multiple times a week.  The goal of this hypnotherapy is to lower her IQ.  Her ultimate desire is not only to resemble Barbie in looks, but also to become brainless like the doll as well.  To hear Blondie in her own words, please watch this video.

In my humble opinion, it appears that this desire to become Barbie even to the point of brainlessness masks a deep psychological pain in this woman.  To purposefully work to forget your life and become ignorant of the world seems to me a red flag to deeper issues.

However, we aren’t here to judge or fix this woman.  I chose to write about her story for two reasons: 1, I found it fascinating and 2, I think it is an interesting way to highlight an important issue in our country.  The current trend in laws and policies makes us increasingly financially responsible for and beholden to one another.

Take the healthcare law for instance.  With health insurance being subsidized by tax payers, we have a financial interest in our fellow citizens staying healthy.  Right now Blondie’s rent is paid by a “special guy” and some of her procedures funded by other gentlemen in her life.  I presume that one day, as she ages, these gravy trains will cease to run.  Where then will her money come from?  What if she suffers back problems from the weight of her super enhanced bosom?  What if her treatments to become brainless work so well that she is unable to enter the workforce or even care for herself because of her forgetfulness?  Since she chose to put herself in that position, should American tax payers foot the bill for her future care?

If the answer is yes, doesn’t that give us a vested interest in her behavior now?  We see this idea play out in campaigns against: smoking, drinking in excess, eating junk food, not exercising, using recreational drugs, etc.  I am not saying that we should encourage these behaviors by any means, but since we are now financially tied together through healthcare, whether or not people stop the high risk behavior has a direct effect on the wallet of every tax payer.

Blondie Bennett may have a contingency plan for her future and continue to live a self-sufficient life.  However, her eccentric life choices are an interesting case study for how involved we should be in the choices of others when the future cost of those choices could fall on our shoulders.  Whether or not you agree with the changing healthcare system it will inevitably lead to new discussions and decisions regarding healthcare rationing as it relates to risky health behaviors.

Mulling over interesting and quirky stories like this one, could give us good practice for the deeper and more complicated questions we are sure to face in the future.

[This blog entry was originally posted in a slightly edited form on Ms. Spranger’s blog on March 18, 2014. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the author alone and do not represent the views of the Bioethics Program or Union Graduate College.]

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