Barbie Girl

Yale Center for Eating and Weight Disorders found that to look like Barbie, the average woman would have to “grow two feet taller, extend their neck length by 3.2 inches, gain 5 inches in chest size, and lose 6 inches in waist circumference”.  Barbie is stated to be 5’9″ tall and weigh 110 lbs — a whopping 35 lbs (2 and half stone for my fellow Brits)  below a healthy weight for a woman of that height. Barbies neck is so thin she wouldn’t be able to lift her head and her ankles and feet are so tiny (childs size 3!) that she would have to walk on all fours… not so glamourous now eh?

In the pursuit of research on this subject I came across this amazing, terrifying, website:

Yes, Barbie is an unrealistic role model… but is she really a role model for the little girls of today?

I had barbies growing up.. loads of them. I had the ski lodge, the pink convertible, and the wardrobe full of tiny clothes and shoes.  I also had disordered eating in my teens.  Do I think these things are related? No!

I know that people could argue that in my subconcious, I, like many other young girls, thought that being thin, and blonde, and pretty= success in life. And while it’s true that I do have very long blonde hair, I do love make up and fashion (as evidenced by this blog!)… that’s not all I am.

Just like Barbie! Yes she is thin, beautiful and popular. But she also ran for president, and has had pretty much every career from doctor to astronaut. I’d argue that makes her a better role model for young girls than many real women out there.  Hello, Miley Cyrus anyone? Even Angelina Jolie.. all the papers talk about her charity work, her adoptions, and they forgot that she used to be the weird girl who wore a vial of her boyfriends blood round her neck (yes really…google it. and yes I’m team Jen, can you tell?)

The whole point of a Barbie doll.. the whole base of the story… is that she can be whatever you want her to be.  I love love love recent Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o’s thoughts on the matter.  She’s quoted as saying:

“Finally I realized that beauty was not a thing that I could acquire or consume, it was something that I just had to be”


Will I let future children of mine play with barbies? Yes. Without a doubt.  But I will make sure I tell them that they are so much more than plastic.  That there is so much more to strive for in life. That sitting in a sunny beer garden eating pizza with friends is more important than losing a pound that week. I worry, pretty constantly, that any child of mine is going to be genetically disposed to ‘end up like me’ and I tell myself how terrible that would be… and then I realise.

At 24 years old, I’m only just now beginning to make my own kind of peace with myself.  I may not be as thin, or beautiful, or popular as I want to be. I have been on an almost constant diet for the last 10 years of my life. But I’m educated, I’m articulate, I can make people laugh, and I have people around me who love me.  I’m fortunate, I’m brave, and I’m a survivor.

If my child ‘ends up like me’ … then they will be just fabulous.