Barbie’s got a big butt and I’m not sure why.
From a business standpoint for Mattel it makes sense. Barbie sales have been on a decline since her insufficient intellect became indisputable in 1992 with the Talking Barbie who declared, “Math is hard.”
Mattel, maker of Miss Barbara Millicent Roberts (her full name), has taken a beating over the years for producing a doll with unrealistic body proportions. And now, after 57 years, they’ve decided to offer Barbie in more realistic proportions.
In addition to various skin tones and hair color that includes blue, Barbie now comes in tall, petite and curvy. And curvy is just a nice way of saying Barbie’s got a bootie.
The updated Barbie also has new feet. The previous tippy-toe stance has been lowered a bit and she has two new shoe sizes -“B” and the Barbie logo. Barbie designer and former Project Runway contestant Robert Best told Time that the company didn’t want to label the shoes as size 1 and 2 for fear “someone would read into that as saying one’s better than the other.”
She comes in two different heights, short (sans bootie) and tall – which is really weird because the dimensions of the original Barbie already made her 5’9” which is already tall considering the average adult female height is 5-feet 5-inches.
Of course nobody was screaming about Barbie being too tall or too short. It was her unrealistic physical dimensions that seemed to cause the most consternation.
Transferred to a human body, Barbie would have a 39-inch bust, 33-inch hips and an 18-inch waist. Last person I ever heard of aiming for an 18-inch waist was Scarlett O’Hara in “Gone With The Wind” and that was with Mammy yanking on her corset strings. Even then she only managed to whittle Miss Scarlett’s waist down to a monstrous 20-inches.
I loved Barbie when I was girl. I played with my blonde bubblehead, blue-eyed Barbie until I ways beyond the normal age. I never thought about her proportions, my mind was focused on her swinging life as a Supreme Court justice driving a convertible, living in a fabulous Dream House, and occasionally going out with Ken (whose velvet hair I had rubbed into a bald spot that was oddly Oedipal). And, Ken never got to drive.
Later, I began to question the Barbie body and the impact of those unreasonable dimensions particularly compared to the reality of my jazzercising, “I-can’t-eat-more-cottage-cheese” Weight Watcher member adult self.
I had sons, so I wasn’t one of the moms “not” buying Barbie in protest, but I had friends with daughters and I heard them often wonder and worry if, by buying their daughter a Barbie, they were setting their daughter up for future disappointment.
Like many other dissatisfied women, Barbie is being made over. But will anything be different? Young girls must learn that who they are is not defined by their waist size, I’m just not sure Barbie’s narrow shoulders bear the majority of the blame for the reason why so many don’t.
Editor’s Note: Left are the new Barbies. Right is one of Brenda’s Barbies from, like, a bajillion years ago. Seriously. She still has it. Which is kinda scary-weird. But you gotta love that hair helmet –Andy