Life Size: Barbie, Body Image, & The Average American Woman

The ever-raging debate about Barbie and body image is one for the ages: On one hand, she’s a rather aspirational character–she’s held a number of careers, was married, and keeps her friends and family close, all of which are appropriate traits for little girl role model-dom. On the other hand, however, she’s classically pretty, tall, has long blonde hair, and has an impossibly tiny waist and giant boobs, not to mention permanently arched feet to squeeze into her tiny collection of heels. For these reasons, Barbie has been blamed for skewing young girls’ perception of beauty and riddling them with body image issues galore–issues that for some, can last a lifetime.

By now, we’ve all heard the statsitics about what Barbz would look like if she were a living, breathing female (here it is again, just in case you forgot): “she would have to grow two feet taller, extend her neck length by 3.2 inches, gain five inches in bust size, and lose six inches in waist circumference,” and some have even gone so far as to create digital renderings of what this real “life size” barbie would look like. Today, however, instead of creating a woman who embodies Barbie, artist Nickolay Lamm–who may be attempting to gain notoriety similar to that earned earlier this year by Barbie-without-makeup digital artist Eddi Aguirre–has made a doll modeled after the average 19-year-old American woman. Plot twist!

“Normal” Barbie, as Lamm is calling her, is shorter, has smaller eyes and breasts, a shorter neck, and a larger nose, waist, and thighs than Mattel’s traditional Barbies. You can see a slideshow of Nickolay’s creations from varying angles and decked out in Barbie’s outfits over at Huffington Post. With his 3-D model, Lamm hopes to influence Mattel to create a “realistically proportioned” Barbie, stating, “if there’s even a small chance of Barbie in its present form negatively influencing girls, and if Barbie looks good as an average-sized woman in America, what’s stopping Mattel from making one?” Interesting query, sir. Only time and Mattel will tell.

What’s your take on Barbie and body image? Do you feel like Barbie had any effect (positive or negative) on your self-image? Would you want your daughter, or future daughter, to play with a doll that’s more realistic? Weigh in with a comment below!


Liza, Editorial Director

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