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Thursday, November 30, 2023


“Plus-Size Barbie” bypasses the curvy body type, goes straight for obesity

If you are a human being with access to the Internet, you have probably seen pictures of plus-sized women proudly showing off their bodies while holding a Barbie doll. These love-the-skin-you-live-in campaigns often feature this plastic fashionista as a standard of what is wrong with society.

While magazine covers and television screens showing emancipated models and celebrities have been continually blamed for society’s warped view on beauty, some studies have traced poor self-esteem in young women to the anatomically misleading doll. So get ready, Barbie; people are beginning to point the finger of blame in your face.

According to a study by, “the ultrathin female beauty ideal (Barbie) has been linked with the extraordinary prevalence of negative body image and unhealthy eating patterns among girls and women.”

From this study, it was also determined that young girls can begin to be concerned with thinness around the age of six.

Toted around like accessories by these young girls, it is understandable that some young girls would look up to Barbie for expectations on how they want their body to look — despite the fact that she’s only about 30 centimeters tall. However, I do not believe that eating disorders and poor body image can be purely blamed on a plastic doll.

Body image is an issue that affects both males and females — some of whom have never even played with Barbie — but people do tend to focus more on the impression that society’s projections leave on the minds of young girls rather than society as a whole.

Currently, women and men are actively attempting to change the way the world views attractive body figures. Hoping to push aside the BMI charts, more and more plus-sized clothing options are hitting store shelves every day. People are looking for new ways to change the way the world views beauty, so they’ve targeted the next cultural item on the list.

Most people do recognize that the dimensions of Barbie in real life are unattainable — not to mention that a 5’9” woman with a 39” bust, 18” waist, 33” hips and a size 3 foot would look extremely creepy. However, for the young girls who do look at the doll in their hands and suddenly have a wish to look like Barbie, an alternative option has been thought of.

Introducing the plus-size Barbie. Standing slightly shorter and quite a bit larger than the typical Barbie, plus-size Barbie was created during an online illustration contest for before being featured on the Plus Size Modeling Facebook page. This doll has a much fuller face than the original Barbie, and she also has thicker arms, stomach, thighs and calves. The only thing that looks remotely similar is her feet — which are still small and proportionately awkward for her body.

Plus Size Modeling posted the picture of plus-sized Barbie alongside the question “Should toy companies start making Plus Sized Barbie dolls?” Of course, the comments following this post were controversial.

While some people praised the idea of this doll for its innovativeness and agreed that Mattel — the creator of Barbie — should produce her, other people were disturbed and offended by a toy that seemed to promote obesity.

Manufacturing this version of a plus-sized Barbie would be slightly crude. I am a supporter of praising body image, but the doll that was created would definitely be categorized as obese, rather than curvy or plus-sized.

Creating an alternative Barbie to promote healthy body image is a good idea. I also feel like designers of the plus-sized Barbie and the original Barbie are on complete opposite sides of the spectrum, but both toys are still advertising an unhealthy lifestyle.

The original Barbie looks like she’s been skipping her plastic meals since she stepped off the assembly line; however, plus-sized Barbie looks like she should get in her Volkswagen, be pushed to Doctor Ken’s office and given a physical to look for harmful side effects of being unhealthy.

Luckily, there has been talk of a Barbie created who would stand in the middle of the spectrum. Generated by artist Nickolay Lamm, “Average Barbie” stands considerably shorter than original Barbie, and she promotes a much healthier lifestyle. Average Barbie’s bust is smaller to more accurately match her body size, her waist and neck are broader and her inner thighs almost touch. In other words, Average Barbie looks like an average, fairly health-conscious girl.

An interview with Lamm in Time Magazine revealed his drive for creating a body image on a doll that would not be dangerous for young girls to emulate.

“If Barbie looks good as an average woman and even there’s a small chance of Barbie influencing young girls, why can’t we come out with an average-sized doll?” Lamm said. “Average is beautiful.”

Not everyone looks like Average Barbie, so some could argue that even she is not an accurate portrayal of young women; nevertheless, Average Barbie is not dangerously overweight like plus-sized Barbie, nor is she dangerously malnourished like the original Barbie.

Society needs to promote a healthy lifestyle — no matter the number on the scale.

Senior staff columnist Kelly Schafler is a print journalism junior and may be reached at [email protected]

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