Barbie is considered one of the 101 influential people who never lived.
If Barbie would exist in a real life she would look like this:
A real-life Barbie would be approximately 175 centimetres tall, while weighing 50 kilos. She would have 92 cm bust and 45 cm wide waist. Human Barbie would not have enough body fat to menstruate and would fit all the physical criteria for anorexia.
To be fair to Mattel (the company that produces the Barbie dolls) I should mentionthat they have created a new prototype of a doll that was slightly more realistic. However, by that time the damage was already done and the production of the doll with the original proportions continued.
In the year 1965 a new Barbie was released with her own mini book – How to lose weight. Barbie’s advice to the 3-to-12-year-olds was: ‘don’t eat’. She also came with a bathroom scale always pointing at 110lbs (50kg).
It comes as a no surprise that thanks to this doll a ‘Barbie syndrome’ emerged, which is an unhealthy desire to look like the Barbie doll in spite of her unrealistic proportions.
Barbie as the female icon
After encouraging little girls to stop eating, in 1992 Mattel released a Teen Talk Barbie which said things like: ‘Math class is tough!’, ‘Will we ever have enough clothes?’ and ‘Let’s go shopping!’. Now all the girls in the world could be thin and stupid and obsessed with shopping at the same time.
As we can see, setting a good example for all the kids is simply what Barbie does. It would probably be too much to ask Barbie not to have unprotected sex with Ken, however. Luckily, after getting pregnant, she turned down the abortion offer from the ‘grumpy old nurse at the clinic’ and became Teen Pregnancy Barbie! But don’t worry, mum, it’s cool, she just found a really trendy diaper bag!
Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!
Surely, nobody would have guess that Barbie inspires people to operate themselves to perfection. Cindy Jackson, Britain’s most surgically enhanced woman,got a Barbie doll when she was 6 and has been trying to imitate her looks ever since.
Sadly, Miss Jackson is not the only one. Aeshly Bond has already spent £20,000 on adjusting her body to look more like Barbie. The woman has 32HH breasts that hurt her back and according to her own statement she is unable to enjoy all the money she earns because “people just keep staring at her”. Hasn’t this woman voluntarily become an elephant man? And can this be traced back to her Barbie doll?
Barbie as a racist stereotype
Just so the Afro-American girls can be obsessed with the Barbie too, the idea of the Black Barbie came a decade after the Barbie inventionhe idea of the Black Barbie came almost a decade after the Barbie invention. Colored Francie, as her name suggests, was a bit unfortunate attempt to create a black doll. The Coloured Francie doll was manufactured using the same body and head as for the white dolls, just painted with a different color. What did the creators expect? Young girls want(ed) to look like Barbie. Isn’t it logical to assume that when seeing a “white Barbie” just dipped to black color, an Afro-American would like to look like her? I know that I am on a very thin ice here, but I cannot help myself to see this as an encouragement to look “more as white people”.
Since the first one did not work out, Mattel tried again and created a ‘politically correct’ black Barbie, Mattel came with So in Style edition in 2009. And the not-at-all-stereotypical image of the black female with weave (a kind of artificial hair mainly used by the black women) wider hips, bigger bottom, flatter nose and a golden chain around her neck was created.
I had a lot of dolls, but I played with Barbie the most, because she was ‘in’. She had special dresses, a car, a house, a TV show… and she just looked stunning in her commercials! I wanted to be her, to have her life. But I couldn’t and so the Barbie-love era faded out after a while. As we can see on the examples I have written about, today it is much easier to become a living Barbie – we can change anything and it is hard to guess, when these “adjustments” to our body are really necessary and justifiable, that is why I see Barbie as a bigger threat today, than it was 40 years ago.
Growing up, I (I think) I did not obsess about my weigh or breasts. But I also went through I hate Barbie phase probably because Barbie was perfect and I was not. I, as probably every girl in the world, wanted to be thinner, prettier, have bigger eyes, smaller thights… but as far as I know this wish to “be more perfect” was not built on the Barbie doll in my head. As I hope I have shown, Barbie is far from being appropriate, yet is so popular that it is almost impossible to fight her. However, it would be ridiculous to say that Barbie is responsible for every body-connected self-hatred little girls (and even grown women) experience. The doll is a part of the picture, more dangerous than many other parts because she influences us at such an early age. But the main part of what we think about our body and what we do with it is still in us.
If you’d like to see some ‘scandalous Barbie pictures’ click here.
- Galeya Slayen. 2011. Photograph. http://www.huffingtonpost.comWeb, Clinton, N.Y.. Web. 29 Nov 2011. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/galia-slayen/the-scary-reality-of-a-re_b_845239.html>.
- How to lose weight, Don’t Eat!, Barbie bathroom scale. 2010. Photograph. http://www.wikipedia.comWeb. 29 Nov 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:How_to_lose_weight.JPG/
- Teen Pregnancy Barbie. 2009. Photograph. http://www.break.comWeb. 30 Nov 2011. <http://www.break.com/pictures/teen-pregnancy-barbie667033.html>.
- Riyan. World’s hottest Barbie controversions. 2010. Photograph. http://www.blogger.comWeb. 27 Nov 2011. <http://oddyfunny.blogspot.com/2010/08/worlds-hottest-barbie-controversies.html>.
- Media Awareness Network, . “Beauty and Body Image in the Media.” http://www.media-awareness.ca. 2010: n. page. Web. 30 Nov. 2011. <http://www.media-awareness.ca/english/issues/stereotyping/women_and_girls/women_beauty.cfm>.