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Life-Size Barbie Sparks Body Image Debate

Posted by Shirley Brady on April 20, 2011 11:30 AM

Galia Slayen created the "life-size" Barbie (39" bust, 18" waist and 33" hips) above for an eating disorders awareness event at her college, and stirred up enough debate (she also blogged about it on the Huffington Post) that NBC's Today Show brought her on to talk about the impact the doll had on her growing up. 

“I’m not blaming Barbie [for her own eating disorder] — she’s one small factor, an environmental factor,” the 20-year-old Hamilton College, NY, student said in the segment, below. “I’m blond and blue-eyed and I figured that was what I was supposed to look like. She was my idol. It impacted the way I looked at myself.”

“As a pop-cultural icon, Barbie is often used as art to express one’s own personal opinions and views,” a Mattel spokesperson responded to the Today Show producers in an email. “Girls see female body images everywhere today and it’s critical that parents and caregivers provide perspective on what they are seeing. It’s important to remember that Barbie is a doll who stands 11.5 inches tall and weighs 7.25 ounces — she was never modeled on the proportions of a real person.”

Mattel's Barbie press site notes that "Barbie’s 'real' measurements are 5 inches (bust), 3 ¼ inches (waist), 5 3/16 inches (hips). Her weight is 7 ¼ ounces" and adds, "She's a doll, people..." but elsewhere acknowledges that she's not just any doll, with 90% of (presumably American) girls age 3-10 owning at least one Barbie.

(Photo above via Huffington Post)


Jeff United States says:

As much as I disagree with Barbie's image the lifesize version shown does not accurately reflect Barbie's real measurements. Given Barbie's measurements from Mattel the lifesize doll should measure:

39" bust, 25.35" waist, 40.46" hips

Still not ideal, but a far cry from Galia's recreation.

April 20, 2011 12:09 PM #

S. Brady (brandchannel) United States says:

Thanks for your comment, Jeff. Clearly, it's a subject of some debate - here's another view of what a life-size Barbie would look like:


Whatever her actual "human" dimensions would be, as Mattel acknowledges the doll presents a distorted image of the female body, one that many girls (my own included) spend a lot of time with.

April 20, 2011 02:44 PM #

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