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The Ongoing Debate Over Plus-Size Barbie

Posted by on January 2, 2014

Is the world ready for a plus-size Barbie? This image below posted to the Facebook page “Plus-Size Modeling” has sparked quite a lot of controversy in the last few weeks.

The shot of the iconic Barbie carrying a few extra pounds was initially created as a submission for  Worth 1000’s 2011 “Feeding Time 9” competition, where artists digitally alter shots of celebrities to make them appear larger, ABC News reports. This image of Barbie was submitted by user bakalia and took first place in the bizarre contest, which also included manipulations of celebrities Mila Kunis, Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian, and more.

Plus-size Barbie

This is the image that appeared on the “Plus-Size Modeling” Facebook page. As of January 1st, the post had 42,346 likes, 3,173 shares and 5,847 comments.
Credit: Facebook/Plus-Size Modeling

There has been a lot of criticism in recent years of Barbie promoting unrealistic beauty standards for young girls. Rehabs.com took it upon themselves last April to create a thorough infographic (below) depicting all of the erroneous and dangerous measurements that the standard Barbie doll has. “The graphic compares the proportions of a Barbie’s body to the body of the average American woman as well as the average model and the average anorexic woman,” reports the Huffington Post.

Barbie body

This infographic shows some truly frightening facts about one of the world’s favorite children’s toys. For example, if a real woman had Barbie’s neck measurements, she would be incapable of supporting her head.
Credit: Rehabs.com

Artist Nikolay Lamm took CDC measurements to compare and contrast a standard 19-year-old with Barbie using a 3-D model, which he posed next to a standard Barbie doll. “This white model (below) was made using measurements that match up closely with CDC measurements of the average 19 year old woman in America,” said Lamm on MyDeals.com. “The end result is what Barbie would look like if she was a healthy, beautiful, 19 year old woman.”

Some say that Barbie is just a toy and that since many toys are unrealistic it should not have any effect on the psyche of our children. However, this is untrue and very problematic. “Barbie isn’t just a doll,” writes Emerald Pellot on College Candy. “Her life has always been aspirational. Her glamorous beach houses, convertibles, and clothing subliminally teach little girls from a very young age that consumerism is what we should aspire to.”

Realistic Barbie

This image by Lamm sparked a lot of debate over more realistic children’s toys, not just more realistic Barbie dolls.
Credit: Nikolay Lamm

Barbie clearly needs to change with the times. However, the image posted on Plus-Size Modeling may not be the best way to go. One commenter wrote on the Facebook page “Barbie doesn’t need a double chin. You can be ‘plus size’ w/o the double chin. They could make a ‘thick’ Barbie.” The biggest criticism of the plus-size Barbie shown actually seems to be the double chin. Most people seem to be claiming that the double chin shows clear “obesity,” and that is different than just showing a curvy doll, ergo the plus-size Barbie being shown is “glorifying obesity.” The comments on the original Facebook posting range from sincere approval to utterly nasty hate speech, but the general consensus is this – it’s time to make a normal, well-proportioned Barbie that actually emulates a real female body.

As of now, Mattel, the company that manufactures Barbie and many other well-known children’s toys, has no plans to change their current rendering of Barbie, according to WPMI-TV, a Florida NBC affiliate.

How do you feel about the plus-size Barbie? Do you want to see toys and dolls like that in stores? Would you buy such toys? Let me know in the comments.

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