The BBC has an interesting article about Barbie called, “What Would a Real Life Barbie Look Like?” The article concludes that women with Barbie’s proportions are rare and even unhealthy, but not unrealistic. Holy Oxymoron, Batman!!
Academics from the University ofSouth Australia suggest the likelihood of a woman having Barbie’s body shape is one in 100,000. So not impossible, but extremely rare. Researchers at Finland’s University Central Hospital in Helsinki say if Barbie were life size she would lack the 17 to 22% body fat required for a woman to menstruate. So again, not an unachievable figure, but certainly not a healthy one.
One in 100,00 – that is .001% of women are able to be Barbie shaped…
The US has a population of 305 million people. Let’s say that 50% of that 305 million are women. That makes a whopping 1,525 TOTAL of women in the USA who are naturally born with a Barbie figure. If ALL of these 1.5K women lived in the ChicagoLand area, they would still only compromise .03% of the ChicagoLand female population (again assuming that 50% of the ChicagoLand population are women – stats calc’d off numbers provided by Wikipedia)!
When you were a child (or even an adult), did you ever wonder why you didn’t look like Barbie? I know I did… Silly me. I just wasn’t smart enough to be born as one of those 1.5K of women who are born with this shape in the US. Hah.
So the BBC takes this woman who is a size 10/12 and stretch and squish her to Barbie’s proportions. If they leave her at 5’6″, she looks like a bizarre bobble head. When accounting for Barbie’s waist to hip proportion, the woman shoots up to 7’6″ tall… which makes me giggle. Apparently in the 5’6″ version of getting Barbiefied, the model has a waist about eight inches smaller than Victoria Beckham’s. That is teeny and not a size achievable for the vast majority of women.
All the above is neat and all, but that’s not what caught my attention. What got me writing this post was a quote from woman who has spent 500,000 British Pounds to have surgery to make herself look like Barbie. *headdesk*
Here is her before and after:
Barbie wannabe Sarah Burge says:
“I actually agree she would probably look a bit freaky if life size but as a doll she looks fantastic,” she says. “There’s nothing wrong in using her as a role model when it comes to looks, as well as attitude to life. At the end of the day you don’t see a personality from across a room do you.”
Oh man… where do I start?!
Barbie simply cannot be any realistic model when it comes to looks, my dear, as this particular body type is extremely rare and not everyone wants to spent a half million pounds (USD $712,750) in plastic surgery either. (Not to mention that some folks – most likely the majority, no matter how much plastic surgery, aren’t going to look like Barbie anyway.) For most women trying to achieve a Barbie body, they would have to become so thin that they would stop menstrating. Yup. Great role model. Who needs health anyway?
Regarding Barbie’s attitude towards life… she has one? I had many Barbie’s growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. They all had the same face… this one:
Whether Barbie was throwing a garden party or curing cancer or exploring Africa, she had the same face… this calm smile. It always gave me the impression that Barbie was one of those women in old tv shows that would wear high-heels, full make-up and a fancy dress while vacuuming with a weird, drugged smile on their faces. No matter what, Barbie would smile serenely. No emotion. Almost as if she was afraid to show original feeling or thought. Right… that’s a great model for girls. Meh.
The bit about not being able to see a personality across the room. I disagree hugely. There are bits of personality you can see from across the room! You can see body language. You can see hints of self-esteem in the way someone holds themselves. You can see how one interacts with others… are they rude, are they screaming for attention, are they kind, are they patient, are they shy… etc. In Speech 101, I was taught that 80% of communication (or was it 85%…?) was non-verbal.
Non-verbal communication is far more dynamic than one would think. From Wiki:
[Non-verbal communication] can be communicated through gesture; body language or posture; facial expression and eye contact; object communication such as clothing, hairstyles or even architecture; symbols and infographics. Speech may also contain nonverbal elements known as paralanguage, including voice quality, emotion and speaking style, as well as prosodic features such as rhythm, intonation and stress.
My point being – you can see some personality from across the room! Building this skill was crucial for me in my learning to stop picking jerks to date. ;) I learned to stop approaching the most conventionally attractive guy in the room… or the guy with the jerkiest body language (because this attracted me for some reason) and learned to be open to men who had more self-respect and patience… and who exuded a respect for the people around him.
Barbie apologists in the article point out that Barbie is just a doll and should be viewed that way. I will say that I agree… and I don’t agree.
Barbie is one more drop in the unbelievably ginormous bucket of images of unrealistically (for most women) proportioned and thin women. As was written about in the “How Fat Women Helped Me Love Myself” post by AGR, it makes a difference if a woman (or girl) is exposed to only one narrow vision of what a woman is or if they see a great diversity in what a woman can be. Do I see a great diversity in the dolls out there? No, I don’t. In fact, I see that the doll market is flooded with dolls like Barbie & Bratz. Bratz has gone so far as to sexualize babies. *headdesk* Can’t even a baby not have to conform to a hyped-up sexual image in the doll world? Not in the world of Bratz apparently and this is not an insignificant portion of the doll market:
I don’t think Barbie would be such a problem, if Barbie dolls and dolls that riff off the Barbie model weren’t so choking the market. When all you ever see from growing up (like I did) from dolls and media is this super-thin ideal that isn’t even healthy (but portrayed as the ultimate peak of health… barf), it can inspire a girl to chase after these “ideals” even to the detriment of her emotional, mental and physical health.
Do I think Barbie is the beginning and the end of the problem? No way. She is a drop in a big nasty bucket filled with all sorts of sewage that inspire a lot of self-image issues in women (and men even!). Either way, I feel strongly that speaking up about those things that can hurt us is important… and so, I do.