A couple weeks ago I came across an article by a college student and HuffPost blogger named Galia Slayen who created a life-size
Barbie to show how unrealistic the doll’s figure is. I thought it was interesting, and it’s definitely worth talking about the negative influence Barbie can have on girls’ self-esteem etc.
Here are some disturbing facts that Slayen lists:
• If Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe.
• Barbie calls this a “full figure” and likes her weight at 110 lbs.
• At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
• If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
• Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” with directions inside stating simply “Don’t eat.”
This is now getting extensive national coverage on every news site I have come across. But is this really that news-worthy? Hasn’t it already been established that Barbie’s boobs are way too big and her waist is way too small? Hasn’t Mattel already redesigned Barbie to have slightly more realistic measurements?
I did a whole portfolio on Barbie and her influence on young women in America back in high school. Of course I came to conclusions about Barbie being over-sexed and that she perpetuates traditional female stereotypes – especially in her early years.
However, there are a lot of positive things about Barbie that I think are worth mentioning. Barbie has gotten a bad reputation, but the truth is she is also a symbol of female empowerment. While her physical representation of women is definitely off, Barbie has had more careers in her life than you can count – and not just teacher, nurse or secretary.
Here are a few listed on Wikipedia: president of the US, firefighter, police officer, dentist, doctor, various US military positions….
She is also international. Over the years, we have seen Barbie dolls come in many different races encouraging little girls that they can be beautiful no matter what hair, eye, or skin color they are born with.
My point is that yes, Barbie is not the best role-model for young girls, but she also isn’t the worst. And lately she has been getting bad-mouthed left and right, so I wanted to cut her some slack.