The Battle of the Barbies: Iconic vs. “Normal” vs. Plus-Size
When I was growing up my three sisters and I spent countless hours playing with our Barbie dolls. Between the three of us we had so many of them with a never-ending wardrobe supply. When you consider the fact that a Barbie doll is sold every three seconds somewhere in the world, it’s clear that we weren’t the only ones.
As an adult I wonder what all those hours playing with Barbie might have done to my body image. By now we all know how unrealistic and unproportional Barbie actually is. Her neck is twice as long and six inches thinner than the average American woman; her 16 inch waist would leave room only for half a liver and a few inches of intestine; her 3.5 inch wrists and 6 inch ankles would make it impossible for her to lift any heavy objects. All of these factors combined mean Barbie wouldn’t be able to actually walk upright, but instead would have to walk on all fours.
Why would a doll company create a doll for little girls with a body that is impossible for them to emulate? Why not create a doll that is modeled after the average American woman?
Artist Nickolay Lamm wondered the same thing and decided to do something about it. Using the proportions of an average 19-year-old girl, Lamm created a 3-D model of a “normal” Barbie. Of the project he says:
I created normal Barbie because I wanted to show that average is beautiful. If average-looking Barbie looks this good and if there’s even a chance of Barbie negatively influencing young girls, why not make one?…If normal Barbie can be made, I feel she’ll have a more positive influence on girls than Barbie in its current form. Normal Barbie shows that you are beautiful, just the way you are.
Taking Lamm’s idea one step further, Plus Size Modeling posted the following picture on their Facebook page:
The post received a firestorm of attention with over 40,000 likes and 5,000 comments. Opinions have been mixed on whether a plus-size Barbie is a good idea or not. In the comments many criticized the Barbie pictured for being obese or having too many chins:
No Jesus Christ no!!!!…No one is naturally fat for gods sake, that’s sending the message to girls that it’s ok to look like this and be unhealthy
Imo this is horrible. Maybe make her a little fuller, but in no way promote obesity. Triple chins?? Really?? Im a curvy girl, but come on this is ridiculous.
Good Lord, wtf? I am in agreement with the majority!!! I saw this photo and I was appalled!!!… You should be ashamed at posting the photo, not the idea…..that Barbie is OBESE, not FULL FIGURED!!! You sicken me.
On the flip side there were many who were excited to see a curvier Barbie:
Normal people! Normal dolls, Normal eating habits!
Yes to curves! Wish there was an “average” Barbie. Not skinny, not obese. Normal proportions.
How about just a more realistic size. The average American woman is a 14/16 not a size 2
How about normally proportioned dolls with a healthy body weight. Promote health, not any ideal.
Ninety percent of girls 3- to 10-years-old own at least one Barbie doll, with girls 3- to 6-years-old averaging 12 dolls each. That’s a lot of Barbie dolls in the hands of impressionable young girls.
So what do you think? Would you rather have your daughter play with iconic Barbie, “normal” Barbie or plus-size Barbie?
Personally I’d like to see Barbie in all different shapes and sizes to match the varying shapes and sizes of all women.
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