What’s five-foot-nine, fifty-three years old, and has an eating disorder?
This week’s TSL brings you the proportions of America’s favorite hunk of polyvinyl chloride.
- Height: 5’9
- Weight: 110lbs
- Bust: 39”
- Waist: 18”
- Hips: 33”
- Shoe size: 3
- BMI: 16.24
Galia Slayen might not be a name you have heard before, but it’s one of the first names that you’ll hear in the controversy over the proportions of Mattel’s Barbie doll. You’ll hear her name because for a high school project, Slayen chose to build a life-size cast of one of her childhood toys, the friendly neighborhood Barbie doll, using the proportions listed above. But instead of beautiful, the results were—rather frightening. Slayen was inspired to do this project by her not-so-friendly past struggle with the eating disorder anorexia. According to her report to Huffington post, Slayen even dressed the model in one of her own size 00 skirts that marked the thinnest point in her struggle. This, she said, serves as a reminder that, though many will say it’s just a toy, nothing about this image of beauty is normal.
In recent years, Barbie has been slammed by self-esteem advocates concerned with the body image of young ladies. One such advocate, Ph.D. Margo Maine, author of Body Wars, unearthed the 1965 Slumber Party Barbie, whose accessories included a bathroom scale permanently set to 110 pounds and a book titled “How to Lose Weight.” Instructions inside the book reveal “Don’t eat.”
Hm, I wonder why that would be an issue for young, impressionable girls.
The British Broadcasting Company entered the conversation in 2009 when they reported the results of the University of South Australia. The university, hearing the debate, thought to do a comparison between the proportions of Barbie and Ken. They didn’t agree with all of the proportions done by earlier studies, but what they found was that a man had about a one in fifty chance of having the proportions of a Ken doll. Barbie, on the other hand, had proportions as rare as at least one in 100,000. Essentially, this means that standards are about 2000 times higher for women.
Since this report broke nationally, these proportions have been passed around for different experts to weigh in on. Most prominently have been the medical realities that our blonde bombshell would face because of her large chest and thin waist. For instance, researchers reported to ABC News that it would be physiologically impossible for Barbie’s lower back muscles to support the weight of her upper body. If she were able to walk at all it would be minimal, and very painful (Sorry sweetheart, we might have to ditch the size 3 heels). More likely Barbie would need the aid of a walker or wheelchair. Mattel weighs in with MSNBC: “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.” This is why Mattel defends the slim figure of its classic shape, saying that it is better suited to her fabulously extensive wardrobe. ABC’s reporters found that it is also suited to an anorexic BMI, about half a liver, and–at most–“a few centimeters of bowel.” What this would mean for out little plastic friend is that, if even she did break the ol’ rule book, behind that permanent pink smile would be chronic diarrhea and a good chance of early death due to malnutrition.
Come on Barbie, let’s go party.
Let’s reel this back in and be real about this. Let’s hope that no one buys their little girl a Barbie in the hopes that she’ll become one. But when you’re a little boy, you get a little plastic car. When you’re a little girl, you get a little plastic woman. If the headlights aren’t to scale on your Hot Wheels, the wheels still go around. On the Barbie—well—let’s just say that it’s a different story.
TLDR; buy her a Hot Wheels; she’ll thank you later.