Many have tried to extrapolate Barbie’s measurements if she were a real person, and while the numbers may differ here and there, one thing is certain: She’s completely unrealistic.
While you may think that could have a detrimental effect on a young woman’s psyche, Kim Culmone, vice president of design for Barbie, disagrees.
In a recent Fast Company
article, Culmone comes across as a case study for spin. Asked about Barbie’s impossible proportions, which the Daily Mail
once reported would leave the poor girl with half a liver, Culmone said this:
Barbie’s body was never designed to be realistic. She was designed for girls to easily dress and undress. And she’s had many bodies over the years, ones that are poseable, ones that are cut for princess cuts, ones that are more realistic.
Writer Mark Wilson followed up, asking, “So to get the clean lines of fashion at Barbie’s scale, you have to use totally unrealistic proportions?”
“You do!” Culmone answered. “Because if you’re going to take a fabric that’s made for us, and turn a seam for a cuff or on the body, her body has to be able to accommodate how the clothes will fit her.”
Culmone went even further to suggest that Barbie has nothing to do with contributing to a negative body image in young girls. Instead, she blames “peers, moms, parents, it’s their social circles.”
cites a 2006 study from University of Sussex that concludes that thin dolls do, in fact contribute to increased risk of eating disorders and weight cycling.
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Little girls themselves are even getting in on lobbying companies to make their toys more female-friendly. A letter from a 7-year-old named Charlotte to LEGO
—which wasn’t about the figures’ proportions, but about how there are so many more male figures than female—went viral this week: