Diets in Review - Find the Right Diet for You

Life Size Barbie Shows Young Girls the Dangers of Unrealistic Body Expectations

Galia Slayen has gotten a lot of attention for building a life-sized Barbie to help bring awareness for National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

Her Barbie certainly looks like an exaggerated ideal, much like other cartoons and toys. Unfortunately, Galia wasn’t able to create a proportional head and used a toy to top off her life-sized Barbie, but the other proportions are dead on for what Barbie would look like if she were a real woman. While it is certainly clear that Barbie’s waistline is unrealistically thin, I would hate to see what any of Disney’s princesses would like compared to a real human body.

Barbie is just one more example of how the media favors an unrealistic ideal when it comes to body shapes and sizes. Let’s not forget He-man and G.I. Joe when we consider what toys suggest to children. There are toys and cartoons and then there are airbrushed images in magazines and movie stars. Call it unrealistic or idealism, we are surrounded from early childhood. The problem comes when we start to expect this impossibly unrealistic exaggeration from ourselves as real people. That is when we can start to see unhealthy attempts to achieve such impossible ideals and the development of eating disorders.

When our children watch cartoons and play with toys like Barbie, it is important that we also expose them to realistic, healthy images. It is important that we check our own attitudes about body image and the worth of a person based on more than dress size. While the toys we play with impact our childhood, ultimately it is a parent who has the greatest influence on a child and his or her self-esteem.

May 3rd, 2011

> Leave Feedback

User Feedback

(Page 1 of 1, 41 total comments)

Caroline

Makes me laugh. I always thought Barbie was so out of proportioned and NOT the ideal body shape at all. When did Barbie suddenly get so big headed? In all honesty she's a bit minging. Barbie is not the problem, it's how society explains Barbie. No one in the world looks I've Barbie, I'd be scared if they did. You can't blame eating disorders on an out of shape unrealistic toy. It's other people who inject the link of this being supposedly the ideal shape. It don't say anywhere on the Barbie packaging about this so someone somewhere is making that connection and unfortunately it's always people trying to 'help'

posted Dec 14th, 2011 12:27 pm


Claire

Totally misguided. Eating disorders are brain based biological illnesses. To even *suggest* that they could be linked to the desire to look like a doll (ladies, raise your hand if you EVER aspired to looked like Barbie, or thought the doll remotely resembled the "ideal" image of human woman) trivializes these deadly disorders.

posted Dec 13th, 2011 7:08 pm


Sm

I first want to say Thank You to SC, Rachel, and Ed mom because they have experience and know how they truly feel about this article. I could only guess what may cause this kind of disorder and Barbie or dolls and figures like her MAY have something to do with it but I also believe it is a psychological need to feel wanted. It is truly a disorder that I feel is not absolutely contributed to Barbie.

posted Dec 5th, 2011 9:43 am


td

i get it...unfortunately and obviously, many don't. i don't know who's speaking on behalf of psychologist but what they fail to point out is that yes, children can determine reality from pretend but they are not readily able to determine if the pretend is based on reality .

posted Nov 18th, 2011 5:47 pm


Dee

What an absurd article. The tabloids that show 50 pound girls as ideal are more responsible then some cartoon looking toy.

posted Nov 8th, 2011 5:59 pm


Denise

Instead of worrying about dolls, why doesn't someone do something about the commercials?! Seriously, I think Victoria's Secret commercials, etc., do more to harm a pre-teen or teenager's self-esteem than playing with Barbie. Children DO know the difference between reality and cartoons and if the media and advertisers would use people who are normal-sized, I think it would do a lot to help kids (girls in particular) realize that drastically underweight models are NOT normal or healthy.

posted Oct 7th, 2011 6:42 pm


Jeff

Seems a little odd that the article I read just prior to this one was about the exploding percentage of children that are obese.
Both positions can't be 100% correct. I realize that there will always be overweight and those who go to extremes to be thin. But, blaming dolls for kids having misguided visions of their bodies isn't logical at all. At some point parents have to be the ones in control of what their kids brains are fed.
Otherwise, we're just waiting on the drug companies to sell us another pill to deal with this.
Haven't we had enough of that already?

posted Oct 5th, 2011 4:47 pm


john

Kids are looking more and more like cabbage patch kids.. very little worry about barbie. The obesity problem is far worse than anything.. walk through the mall and look at all the obese kids... sad

posted Oct 1st, 2011 10:44 am



Leah Johnson

I don't understand why so many of you are freaking out and talking about things this article isn't about. This is a young woman concerned about eating disorders and obviously believes that the body images that we are bombarded with every day are to some extent helping us think that that is what we should look like. In all actuality it does not take a scientist to figure this out. Open your eyes and have a look around, what does society tell us we should look like to be happy. Billboards, commercials, peers, sadly even family. The toy industry is only emulating these things to make money. They know what doll little girls will want. Hmm, so why does a little girl as young as three years old want a scantily dressed, perfect bodied doll. I'll leave you with that to think about.

posted Sep 26th, 2011 9:54 pm


yes, they do

@Crabbieappleton, are you really so naive or unobservant that you think scientists have to study whether little girls see this ideal and think this is what society tells her is beautiful and valuable? That's absurd. Barbie is exactly what I thought I had to look like, even as a tween. My body dysmorphia began at age 5 and my eating disorders lasted into my 30s. Just because you aren't predisposed or affected doesn't mean that some dude in a lab coat with a grant needs to prove it's possible.

posted Sep 24th, 2011 1:52 am


Major Mason

And what's wrong with GI Joe? If I remember correctly, he had a well-built muscular body. How does this tie in to eating disorders? If it really had an influence on a boy's psyche, (Which I doubt is that pronounced.) it would motivate him to exercise and be active. We could only wish that more kids these days would would even try to be that way.
As far as the crude construct representing a
"life size Barbie"; I think it's an exaggeration of an exaggeration. And I don't think that much of an attempt was made to reproduce the proportions to scale. Barbie's got a big rack, but not THAT big. And you really couldn't find a life size representation of a human head? Maybe you should start with a department store mannequin and modify the body accordingly. At least it would have hands and arms that didn't look like broomsticks. Put it in a cornfield to scare crows, and quit trying to blame serious things on trivial things.

posted Sep 21st, 2011 1:03 pm


BeBop

Perhaps the kids should be given Homer Simpson dolls to play with. That way, they can develop realistic expectations of what they will probably look like when they get older.

posted Sep 20th, 2011 2:23 pm


SC

As someone who suffered from an eating disorder since I was 8, currently 19 and weigh 85 lbs at 5'4" (in recovery, doing very well, goal weight is 110), I think this article is actually a bit humorous. I'm pretty sure playing with Barbie didn't influence me to develop an eating disorder at 8, hell, I didn't even know what an eating disorder was or why in the hell I didn't want to eat. With eating disorders, I believe environmental factors are the biggest reason why people develop eating disorders. Some people develop them, and some people don't..it's not because they are weak, or the other person is stronger--it just happens. Everyone is built differently, and people will react to trauma or other emotional things differently. So, in my opinion, this Barbie crap is just another way of people trying to "justify" eating disorders. When I was in the hospital, most girls I met didn't think they were rediculously fat; I never thought I was really fat. I mean, really in a case by case situation, who knows why it really happens. Maybe genetics play a role as well, chemical imbalances too. Maybe they should do some real research and let this barbie crap go. I love Barbie.

posted Sep 20th, 2011 10:37 am


Kristi

To Paul,
if anorexia and other eating disorders are SO CONTROLLABLE why the heck is it the most DEADLIEST out of ANY mental illness??????!!!! Because it is a mental illness, we can't just eat or stop eating!!!! There are some VERY ignorant comments on here and I pray no one you know comes down with an eating disorder, because your rude comments will definitley hurt them. AND, to the counselor who said something about Barbie having nothing to do with eating disorders, but lawyers will find a way to sue mattell.... what kind of school did you go to??? Are you a psychologist, and eating disorder specialist, or just a counselor??? if so, you have no right to be voicing your professional opinion nor advice because, if you are a true couselor or anything more up the ladder, you would know that is ILLEGAL and you can get in big trouble from that!!! Barbie is NOT the cause of eating disorders, however she tributes to them, because girls want to look PERFECT like she is. So for girls or boys that have a genetic predisposition to eating disorders, they are more likely to get an eating disorder than a person without the predisposition. Its not just ALL about Barbie, its a whole spectrum of things that the media and companies create that are unrealistic for our youth/ and/or people of any age to try and be like. for everyone who thinks this is all bs...go to www.something-fishy.org and click on the memorial link where you will see hundreds of people who have died from eating disorders.

posted Sep 18th, 2011 4:02 pm


Is this a joke?

Lol it's just a doll. I have yet to meet a girl who aspires to be a plastic plaything. I think kids can tell the difference between a manufactured. mold body and a real flesh body. Jeez.

posted Sep 18th, 2011 6:35 am


concernedman

We live in a free country. If you don't like Barbie, buy something else. Millions of girls around the world love this product. They will continue to buy it despite what the radical feminists are screaming about. The people who are whining about this trivial matter need to volunteer to help people in need and stop trying to control society. Pathetic!!!

posted Sep 17th, 2011 10:30 am


Vyper

You know what I want to know? Barbie has been around for 50+ years: what happened to all of the girls who should have had eating disorders and poor self image disorders back in the 50s and 60s? Yeah, I know - someone will come behind me and post that they were "there, just not recognised or reported", etc., but the fact is - they had nothing to blame their poor decisions and habits on, so they got on with their lives without a plastic scapegoat. Don't get me wrong - I know Barbie is unrealistic, but so are MOST dolls. This one just offends those looking for an excuse to be offended. And please, don't respond and tell me I'm ignorant, or don't know what you went through as a child: you don't know me either. I'm just going by the overwhelming evidence available to anyone not looking for an excuse...

posted Sep 9th, 2011 2:26 pm


Brendan

What I can't find is what a 'Barbie' doll would look like using human proportions. Part of the issue is that miniatures need some exaggeration in order to look right.

posted Sep 8th, 2011 4:44 am


Paul

This is ridiculous. Stop with all of this disorder nonsense. You have complete control of what you do or don't do with your body so make the decision about the right amount of food you should eat and live with the consequences. I'm tired of everyone in the US using this crap as an excuse. If you can see your ribcage, eat more food. If you weigh twice as much as you should, eat less and exercise more. It's not rocket science, but hiding behind excuses like...."my barbie doll was anorexic so I thought it was the way I should be" is moronic and you should be ashamed that you feel this is an acceptable excuse. You're admitting that you don't have the brainpower or will to see a problem and correct it. This is a disturbing trend in the US and it needs to be dealt with.

posted Sep 3rd, 2011 1:18 pm


lee

I am so sick and tired of hearing all the whiners and complainers that focus on a toy as a reason why people think the way they do. one i am a doll maker and a doll house maker and collector, with that said as this issue was addressed by mattel inc. and multiple fashion doll makers over the last decade its called SCALE! THe dolls have to be scaled down in key areas waist,breasts and hips so that modern fabric can be used to create the clothes and not make all the dolls look ackward, if fabrics were milled to the scale needed to look normal on dolls the average retail cost would be huge so use what is there. There is no hidden adgenda No warping of the youth or making a statement in how dolls are made just facts about scale. So what do you do Parent your childern be the role model do your part but do not blame toys for what happens

posted Jul 24th, 2011 1:47 am


Rachel

Wow, as someone who has suffered from an eating disorder I am astonished with the ignorance here. I grew up with wonderful parents who modeled healthy eating habits and positive self image. They never showed anything less than love for me. I do believe that my unrealistic body image ideals (I was 5'7 and 110 at one point and still felt fat.) stem in part from growing up with almost every celebrity, pop star, and toy being insanely thin and perfect. It also comes from my own perfectionism and type a personality. But I can't help but think if society's view of perfect was different than it is now, I may never have felt pressure to starve myself.

posted Jul 13th, 2011 10:28 am


AS

Ken: I get that you're trying to be sarcastic, but do a better job at that, okay?

posted Jul 9th, 2011 1:58 pm


Guy Incognito

Galia Slayen is hot

posted Jul 9th, 2011 1:54 pm


Ken

I'm going to make a life size Raggedy Anne doll to show young girls the dangers of unrealistic body expectations.

Then I'll be famous too!

posted Jul 7th, 2011 12:57 pm


MMM

Just for the record: Barbie's measurements are such that she would FALL OVER because her legs and torso would not be able to support her breasts.

posted Jul 6th, 2011 1:35 pm


Orietta

Blaming a TOY for eating disorders at any level is stupid. Barbie has nothing to do with it. How about we teach these girls personal responsibility? Stop giving them excuses for their behavior and give them resources for changing it.

posted Jul 6th, 2011 1:10 pm


enr

Holy Crap people when I was ten years old I knew (wait for it people) Barbie was a DOLL not real. OH my god people grow up stop blaming everything for your own insecurities.

posted Jul 5th, 2011 9:59 am


ED Mom

As a mother whose daughter has suffered for years with a severe eating disorder, I am finally fed up (pun intended) with all the self-righteous parents who smugly claim that their daughters are ED free because of their sterling and outstanding parenting abilities. They have a complete and utter ignorance about the disease, which has been shown to be partially genetic-based.
Most girls show symptoms of the disease beginning in adolesence. Why? Because this is the age, at school and other social situations, where the daughters (and sons) of these same "perfect" parents begin to realize that they have been genetically blessed with what they consider to be more perfect bodies than some others, and in order to secure their position in these little societies, bully, tease, and abuse those they consider to be less fortunate physically. In an attempt to "fit in", girls biologically predisposed to the disease attempt strict diets, even vomiting, and the disease begins. It has been shown that more than half of all young women will at some point in their adolesence try out behaviors associated with an eating disorder. Those with the genetic predisposition can go on to develop the full- blown disease. (Much like an alcoholic, who develops that disease with their first drink.)
My daughter has suffered greatly; she has been hospitalized often and has been unable to lead a normal life. She will tell you that the stigma and cruelty she felt at being a little overweight contributed to the onset of the disease, but was not the only cause. She will also tell you that her home and family is her safe haven, where she has felt, always, love and acceptance for who she is. If the same was true of her school and other social milieus, perhaps she would not have developed the disease. Perhaps the perfect parents should spend a little more time modeling the behaviors of acceptance and inclusion, and instructing their children on the life-altering affects of bullying and cruelty.

posted Jul 5th, 2011 9:04 am


krissy

as a counselor for women with eating disorders, i can tell you that barbie has nothing to do with it.
ah but with all the lawyers in the world, i'm sure some low-life will find a way to sue mattel for this.

posted Jul 4th, 2011 12:23 pm


Michele

It's a DOLL. If MOTHERS would present a healthy outlook about their OWN bodies, their daughters would develop a healthy outlook for their bodies. Don't blame the toy industry for your child's unrealistic view of how the human body should look. Look in the mirror, mom (and dads). Watch how you speak of your own body in front of your child. Eat decently, exercise to keep your body healthy, and show your children someone real to admire.

posted Jul 3rd, 2011 9:48 am


labradog

All the girls I knew who were into playing Barbies were boring drags.

posted Jul 2nd, 2011 6:55 pm


trudye

did you NOT read the article? It mentioned the disproportionment of the doll's measurements. Good gracious, at least show the public you can retain something; if only until you finish your comment. Moron

posted Jun 28th, 2011 4:40 pm


JLA

?? why not actually use a scaled up barbie .. this one is not even close to the proportions of the barbie doll.
head too small .. breast too big .. legs are long like the doll .. overall thin like the doll.. but get real on the breasts and head size? way off the reality of the doll's proportions

posted Jun 27th, 2011 5:18 pm


Democracy_Doctor

I wonder when our kids became so stupid? Probably when their parent' s common sense died, a few decades back?

posted Jun 27th, 2011 1:07 am


Jerome B

That really doesn't look like a Barbie.

posted Jun 25th, 2011 7:53 pm


Emerald

I hope that all these misinformed or mentally malfunctioning people out there are ready for some reverse law suits in the future! Good heavens! When are people going to start taking care of their own problems and facing their own responsabilities? I am sick to death of Barbie being the scapegoat of every little ailment the that the latest generation gets fixated on. And this week Greenpeace advertised her as a Serial Killer that is destroying the Rain Forrest! And I thought it was only young women and children that were so manically phobic about her. Seems their Moms might be as well (and Dad's?). The only reason they didn't directly associate Barbie with adolescent cutting is that she is physically unable to cut herself. But they managed to blame her none-the-less on the grounds that her ideal figure gave girls an unrealistic goal they felt they had to achieve. Where may I ask are these children's parents? Where is their support system of love and nurturing that assures them more then any words, or disillusions them so monstrously? I raised three daughter's single-handedly and I never had one SINGLE instance of 'Barbie Mania' from any of them. They all had Barbies and the only negative reaction I ever got from them was total avoidance. Why? Because my eldest was the tomboy of the family and turned her nose up at ALL dolls no matter who or what they were. They went through all of the normal stages with Barbie that all sensible kids do, transference in the begining, you know, painting their finger nails ( and heads, they weren't terribly particular) and hair styling, to hair chopping and designers model. All healthly role playing for young girls. No worse then the baby baby doll stage where they actually feed, burp and diaper them.They grow away from baby dolls as they grow and use Barbie as an model to learn from and express themselves. They can make clothes, do make up. Shes a childs doll for Heavens sake! I'll lay odds that this hole 'Smear Barbie: out of existence is at the bottom of some long forgotten law suit where yet another 'LAZY SELF SERVING' mother found it easier to blame Barbie (whom couldn't even defend herself) and try to make a bundle to ensure that she could live in a comfortable lifestyle for little effort. I have to ask, where does the insanity stop here? I myself grew up on Barbie. I never ONCE compared myself to her in such a compulsive way as to want or need to look like her. But I gotta tell you, before Barbie, there were movie stars and Princess's and sometimes just a lovely women or real life girl in your home town. If you have an instability in the first place, you will certainly walk in that direction without intervention. But then we had neighbors that knew us inside and out, small towns that knew if we were acting odd or off. Teachers and playmates as well. And all would seek advice from an adult or go to the parent if they couldn't reach the child. Again, if Barbie didn't exist, there would simply be another trigger for someone already predisposed to have such problems. I was never as thin wasted as Barbie or as top heavy, and I never even THOUGHT about comparing myself to Barbie Barbie was in a class all to herself. I admired her and all the perfectly made but stunning clothing that I knew I would never have, let alone all those cool accessories. But if I couldn't have them, I could at least pretend through my Barbie. And boy was that fun! It was so fun that as an adult, I started collecting her as my children started playing with her and they came out with Astronaut Barbie, etc. I have an extensive collection that I tell my grandson is his college tuition if grandmas not here and he wants to go to college (believe it or not he helps me collect them lol) If not, he and mom have my house and everything in it after I am gone...including the Barbies that his mother still thinks are silly...as she plays Hot Wheels on the floor with her son ;-)

posted Jun 24th, 2011 1:11 pm


mb

Where can I find a hot lookin' babe like that! Grrrrr!!

posted Jun 24th, 2011 12:21 pm


rationalrevolution

I'd hate to see what a life sized Strawberry Shortcake doll would look like...

The idea has some merit, but very little.

posted Jun 22nd, 2011 11:25 am


clemdane

I'm not convinced that exposure to unrealistic dolls like Barbie actually contribute to problems with self-image or eating disorders in girls. Are there any studies that prove causation? I liken Barbie to a form of larger than life myth that serves a sort of mythological/iconic function to girls and to society and not as a realistic role model or source of invidious comparison. Like the Venus of Willendorf she is an extreme exaggeration of a cultural ideal that is not meant to be taken literally.

posted Jun 22nd, 2011 10:57 am


not the hulk

This is dumb.

posted Jun 21st, 2011 10:09 am


Pat Jillian

Certainly the Barbie dolls proportions are not the same as real people's. But then, neither are most other dolls, action figures, and cartoon characters. Where is the evidence that these are harmful?

Besides, if Barbie is influencing young girls on what the ideal should be, it's not working! American girls (and boys) are only getter fatter, not closer to the Barbie measurements.

posted Jun 18th, 2011 5:16 pm



   
 

Leave Feedback

Skip the moderation queue by becoming a MyDIR member.

Already a member?

Need to sign up?
It’s free and only it takes a minute.
There are two ways to join:


Or, proceed without an account