START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good
1,340,058 people care about Women's Rights

The Battle of the Barbies: Iconic vs. “Normal” vs. Plus-Size

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.

Related from Care2:

Has “Fat” Become the Newest F-Word?

How Two moms Dealt Very Differently with Post-Baby Body Drama

7 Reasons Lululemon Should Make Yoga Pants for People Whose Thighs Touch

Read more: , , , , ,

Photo credits: TracheotomyBob, Plus Size Modeling

have you shared this story yet?

some of the best people we know are doing it


+ add your own
12:09PM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

I'd love to see a whole line of dolls that were all different colors; all different ethnicities, all different sizes. Oh wait -- isn't that what the American Girl series is? And it doesn't even begin to sell as well as Barbies. So WHAT does that say about what little girls want? Dolls are fantasies - not reality.

6:46AM PDT on Jun 22, 2014

No: because then some kids will begin to think it's OK to gorge on McDonalds and other obesity food.

Why can't they do something medically ideal instead of sexually ideal or it's exact opposite? What is it everything has got to have an extreme?

Maybe they should just do a glut of all sorts of different sizes, as that's a world reality, instead of making a one-size or two-size objection target?

How about loads of different sizes NOT WEARING PINK?

12:23PM PDT on Apr 7, 2014

More diversity in general would be good. Sex, race, ethnicity, disability, body-size, ring it all!

11:43PM PDT on Mar 31, 2014

Re fat Barbie: Already, girls of elementary school age are bombarded by every facet of their lives telling them that being fat is wrong. They KNOW that and already hate themselves for it, and for the most part, they don't know how to fix it. Those girls ARE concerned and they don't know how to fix it.
In one comment above about not allowing girls to see natural sized dolls, the Commenter said she didn't think the girls should be getting the message that it's okay to be whatever size you are. And oh my god, yes they should!!! The advert messages are incredibly hateful and denigrating. Being Barbie is the foundation of "Mean girls" and popular cliques and bullying. We have a chance
To stop a little of that or to direct it elsewhere is the best thing doll makers can do!!

4:50AM PST on Jan 14, 2014

Actually, I wanna see a Barbie in a wheelchair. Or white hair, brown skin, braces, freckles...

10:12PM PST on Jan 9, 2014


4:42PM PST on Jan 9, 2014

I had a Barbie doll but I preferred my Pee Wees, they were so cute :)

11:14PM PST on Jan 8, 2014

i probably owned like 30 barbies as a kid

1:08PM PST on Jan 8, 2014

I grew up pre-Barbie, but I remember reading the Nancy Drew books: Nancy was the intrepid redheaded sleuth, and her best friends were Bess (plump, blonde & feminine) and George (brunette, athletic and, I now realize, probably either lesbian or potentially trans-gender). I think having more variety in dolls (and action figures as well) would make them better suited for imaginative play--and manufacturers could actually sell not only more dolls, but more clothes & accessories: I had to make my own "costumes" when I wanted my dolls to be shipwrecked on a desert island, stranded in the Sahara, etc. I think plus-sized dolls are a good idea, but the example shown has arms & legs that are not proportionate to her torso--and the feet!--no way a hefty girl could even stand up on those teeny things, much less have adventures.

4:42AM PST on Jan 8, 2014

I loved Barbie I loved many other toys .. playing with Baribie had nothing to do with my self esteem or self worth .. my mother did and father did. I wanted a barbie she was more like a princess ... not something I wanted to be when I grow up, my parents were rsponsible for my mental health for my eating habits for how much time I spend outside playing with other kids, how many friends I had, and asking us clever questions "so why do you like Barbie so much" why do you like your other toy so much" "how do you feel about yourself when you with other kids?" is anything bothering you" "why didn't you eath dinner two days in the row" ... and if there was and image issue that I had in high school it had nothing o do with barbie .. I no longer played with barbie ... it was the peer pressure from high school .. the bullying in high scholl ... barbie was so not in the picture any more.. these dolls are not for adults suffering from low self worth... barbie is like a disney princess she just got unlucky and wasn't bought by princess.. why isnt there a war on all the disney dolls ... people really look like sleeping beauty? come on... get off the Barbie wagon ... if she was sold to Disney and if she there was a movie about her would we still have an issue .... does anyone want to see a size 16 sleeping beauty? or a snow white ? NO... and anyeone who is size 16 i don't want to be mean .. its time to hit the work out room.. for your own health.. no judgment ... but size 16 is just not

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

Care2 - Be Extraordinary - Start a Care2 Petition
ads keep care2 free

Recent Comments from Causes

Shaming doesn't help or work, and it's destructive. I have a friend who lost eighty pounds. It took…

Personally I find it distressing when people assume that know what is right for everyone else, all they…

Cellular B12 assimilation CAN be impaired by Nitrous Oxide Anaesthesia used sometimes in Dental surgery,…

meet our writers

Kristina Chew Kristina Chew teaches and writes about ancient Greek and Latin and is Online Advocacy and Marketing... more
ads keep care2 free

Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!