I am, however, the proud owner of a Little Mermaid Edition Barbie.At some point in almost every little girl’s life, she becomes engrossed in the Pepto-Bismol-pink world of Barbies, a place I entered at the age of seven. Utterly bewildered, we combed through the freshly mown grass and woods, but unfortunately, our search bore no fruit.
However, there is no such rationale for the very thin representation of Barbie in her TV show, movies, books, and range of online games.
In all forms, Barbie represents a completely unattainable figure for adult women.
Launched in 1959, named after the inventor’s daughter Barbara, and owned by 99% of 3-10 year old girls in the USA, Barbie has been a popular request on young girls’ Christmas wish lists for 55 years. She has even been said to be perpetuating gender stereotypes that lead to domestic violence and the gender pay gap. There is no need to question whether Barbie’s body shape is unrealistic.
Barbie has been blamed for causing body image issues and even eating disorders.
Researchers have reminded us that her proportions would occur in less than 1 in 100,000 adult women, that her waist is 20cm smaller than a reference group of anorexic patients; and that, with these proportions, she would not be able to menstruate or even hold up her head.
The doll’s creator, Mattel, claims that the proportions were created for ease of dressing and undressing the doll, not replicating an adult figure.
This also has the effect of reinforcing the societal “thin-ideal” for women, and having high levels of thin-ideal internalisation is a known risk factor for body dissatisfaction and eating disorders.
Relatively few studies have specifically evaluated the impact of Barbie on young girls.
The realistically proportioned Lammily doll has been released just in time for Christmas this year.
Developed by Artist Nickolay Lamm, Lammily features include a body size and shape that represents the average 19 year old American woman, natural make-up, and sticker packs to add acne, stretch marks and cellulite.