My “Barbie”

-Jasmine Charlton

Barbie FantasiesBarbies® are many girls’ first toys, and we think that they’re beautiful, smart, fearless, and perfect in almost every way. At a young age, girls get this notion of life that in order to have the Barbie house, car, success, and family we must look and be perfect – oh, yeah, and love the color pink.

But to me those requirements seemed flawed — not because I wanted it that way, but because my luck just didn’t catch well. Or so I thought.

I wasn’t cute. I’ll be the first to admit it. I was skinny, abused, and buck-toothed: a horrid combination. I’d often wonder if “Barbie” really existed, and if she went through struggles to obtain her perfect life and be idolized by girls worldwide. As the years passed, my thoughts about Barbie and her perfect life never lagged far behind.

But when I was fifteen, I received braces. Something I never imagined happening actually occurred! My friends who wore braces often complained about them, but I embraced the metal living in my mouth. My braces were only on for two years, but their effect would last a lifetime.

In college, I promised to be everything I never could be in high school. While growing up I was moved to several different foster homes, so extra-curricular activities and girlfriends weren’t common, but now with my smile and wittiness I decided I wouldn’t experience the same misfortune. But then something happened, something life-changing… I found my Barbie when I met my mentor LaDonna Young, one of my bosses at my job at Saginaw Valley State University.

Jasmine with her "Barbie," LaDonna Young
Jasmine with her “Barbie,” LaDonna Young

LaDonna hates that I call her that, but up until now, I never really explained how I gave her that title. To me Barbie is a role model — someone that you mirror, with small modifications, to create your own path. Just like the doll I had before I had braces, I told my Barbie – LaDonna — the secrets that I couldn’t imagine sharing with anyone else and she was there to listen, laugh, cry, and push me to succeed (no matter how hard the push needed to be). I also followed her advice, though I admit she sometimes had to give it repeatedly!

Now that I’ve graduated from college I want to be like my Barbie LaDonna; I want to mentor and help girls like me. I want to show them that Barbies aren’t imaginary, but live within each girl in her own special way. My smile made it possible to venture out and find my Barbie — the fearless, smart, and beautiful young woman I thought never existed. But then LaDonna helped me find my own Barbie…. the one who lives inside of me.

About Jasmine – and How You Can Help More Foster Children Go On To College

Jasmine Charlton was the first foster child to receive help from For The Seventh Generation. You can see her story here and read Dr. Maria Pinzon’s account of working with Jasmine here.

Last May, Jasmine Charlton graduated from college – an accomplishment shared by only three-four percent of foster children.

Would you like to help a metro Detroit-area foster child thrive to increase the chance that he or she will go to – and graduate from – college? Register to help a foster child through For the Seventh Generation today. Your help as a mentor – or your professional expertise as an orthodontist, music teacher, or other child-related expert – can make all the difference. Be a “Barbie” for a child today and help that child become a successful adult tomorrow!

Barbie Fantasies photo courtesy Barbie Fantasies via Flickr

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