Wednesday, July 3, 2013


Just Your Average Barbie

What would Barbie look like with the "measurements of an average 19-year-old woman"? [Bust]

72 Comments / Post A Comment

Citizen Christy

The comments. My head just exploded.


@Citizen Christy Oh man. The comments! Bless you pinners, once more.


@Citizen Christy
"Who wants to play with a short, stubby Barbie?" uh idk anyone who's not currently using her as a sword or polearm?


@Citizen Christy Jesus. That "Primo Uomo Assoluto" guy is a piece of work, he's calling anyone that likes the short doll fat and actually typing out the words oink oink. Repeatedly.


Citizen Christy

@Scandyhoovian He was the one who prompted me to post this. Ugh. Guhughugh. Let's institute a "No reading comments that aren't on the Awl network or Videogum" rule.

Sunny Schomaker

@aphrabean Some day, I will cross-stitch a sampler that says "Never read the comments". Because intellectually, I know it; I just need a gentle reminder.


@Citizen Christy ~Oh,Unbelievable~~ My best friend Elena has just married to a cool black man. They fall in love through~~IntërracialFìshes. ℂoм ~This is a Specialized Online Interracial Dating Services. For black women meet white men, black men dating white women. Meet interracial singles living in your local area or in countries around the world. .)If you are single, try a try.ZXV


*rolls eyes* what would Sailor Moon look like with "average proportions? Sorry guys I can't get on the Barbie hate-wagon. She's a doll, she has stylized proportions. I always liked her because she had a tiny waist but it was hard to get her pants up over her thighs, just like me.

Citizen Christy

@iceberg I never once thought about my own body while playing with Barbies, except for the envy I felt when I played with the gymnast Kelly doll and her friends. They could bend their legs the way a bird does! A BIRD!

H.E. Ladypants

@iceberg Yeah, my Barbies went on epic camping trips, ended up on the moon and got into epic duels. I get that there are probably a lot of subconscious going on but I feel like Barbie, like most not-baby dolls, is mostly just an object to project fantasies on.


@iceberg yeah, but isn't it weird that she stands on her tippy-toes? and that her neck is all weird like that? and that her limbs don't bend?

i grew up in a land where there were no barbies until i was about 10, and i gotta say, i feel all "we played with wooden dolls, and it was better" about it. it isn't EXACTLY that i think barbie instills bad body image to girls, but she's just so... plastic. i picture barbies growing up to be republican senators, and it creeps me out.


@ColdFinger she HAS to stand on her tippy toes so she can wear heels, because they haven't invented doll-foot-bending tech so she can wear heels AND flats.

also MY Barbie's limbs bent!

H.E. Ladypants

@ColdFinger I don't know if it's any weirder than any other toy. I think the interesting thing about Barbie is that she's not a child, baby, or animal toy but a grown-up. My memories of Barbies are mostly of acting out our impressions of adulthood with it's problems and perceived possibilities for adventure. I knew of few girls who focused solely on changing her clothes and making her outfits. Instead, we spent a lot of time playing out our weird ideas about relationships, adventure, and yes, sex, in a way that didn't quite work with other toys. As a kid who grew up with Barbie (and her various friends), what came across wasn't plasticness but a glorious blank slate.


@iceberg hm. yeah, i think i must not get it. somebody brought me my thought barbie from abroad when i was probably 10, and that was probably a bit late. (or... how old ARE people when they play barbie? their limbs just bend a tiny bit, though, don't they?)

i stick by feeling like they grow up to be republican senators, but i grudgingly respect people who were into them :)


@H.E. Ladypants yeah, that makes total sense. having NOT grown up with barbie, i can assure you that dolls who look much less adult (or human) can absolutely be used for the same purpose of playing out scenarios of adulthood, though.


@H.E. Ladypants My Ken had my brother's Action Man's accessories, so he was pretty badass with his TNT detonator and rifle. The two Barbies definitely fought over him.


@iceberg I have no feelings about Barbie of any kind other than a generalized hatred of plastic garbage, mass-produced dreams, blah blah blah -- I never had one or wanted one or knew anything about them -- but the idea that Barbies would somehow be better toys if they were more representative of Normal Womanhood, or, god forbid, that little girls would be better little girls if they had more realistically aspirational toys, that's all destructive and sickening and comes from well-intentioned people who do not understand what a doll is. A doll, as long as it's not an infant-shaped doll, is not an E-Z Bake Oven, it is not a toy vaccuum cleaner, it is not and not supposed to be a socially approved device for giving girl children yet more practice in being a gender-compliant finished product. It is the one girl-typed toy that isn't about being a little woman or a little mother. Of course the advertisements may be about that, but the doll is not.

Barbies as they are, if you believe half of the reminiscences you hear (I am conservative about that because I think only some little girls use their dolls for mutilation and sex play, not every single one of them), are a terrific tool for free imaginative play -- they aren't some kind of live-action Vogue magazine role-play and only a hideous caricature of a grown-up would think so. the idea that little girls are such empty obedient voids that the only thing they do with a grown-up-lady-shaped doll is obediently fantasize about being a grown-up-lady is terrifically insulting and terrifyingly ignorant. barbie isn't for looking at and dreaming of the day your breasts grow to the size of your head and your nipples disappear. it is just a shiny plastic homonculoid that you use as an avatar for your weird psychic projections. all it needs to be useful for that is to look even a tiny little bit like a woman-person.

H.E. Ladypants

@iceberg For some reason or another the only male barbie we had for a while was "Steven," who was black.

My barbies were that adorable family more than two decades before Cheerios did it.

(Of course, as a kid I was completely unaware of anything beyond, "yay, now there's a boy doll.")

H.E. Ladypants

@queenofbithynia Thank you for saying way better what I was trying to get at.

"it is just a shiny plastic homonculoid that you use as an avatar for your weird psychic projections."

I am totally going to borrow this sentence and hope that I have an excuse to use it in the future.


@Citizen Christy oh I wish someone had given me a gymnast doll. I only ever had a Flower Princess (I don't know where these came from but I think they were much like Barbies only with longer legs and less ugly faces, and purple hair) and they were very frustrating because their hip joints only moved along one axis so you couldn't make them straddle e.g. a plastic tiger. what, are you supposed to ride your battle tiger into battle side-saddle? ridiculous.


@queenofbithynia My aunt told my mom I should have at least one Barbie doll. I was so excited to get one. I chose Hiker Barbie. Her feet were flat.

Eventually my brothers took her, chopped off her hair, and hammered (very thin) nails into her nipples (or rather to become her nipples). Then they threw her into the neighbors yard. Then the neighbors were like "is this your doll" and my mom was embarrassed.


@iceberg Skipper, Stacy, and Kelly all had flat feet. Barbie was special.

fondue with cheddar

@ColdFinger I used to work at a shoe store where much of the clientele was old ladies. Many of them had worn high heels every day of their lives, to the point where their calves were shortened and they couldn't wear flat shoes, ever. Even their slippers had to have heels. They had permanent Barbie feet!

I'm Right on Top of that, Rose

@iceberg Knockin' me out with those Australian thighs!


@I'm Right on Top of that, Rose
knockin' you off the sidewalk ;)


@queenofbithynia Ladies, I love all of you. I really love that the Pin is full of people who don't take the automatic approved feminist position on X subject, and Barbie totally has an approved feminist stance.

Also, I agree. I had rag dolls, Ginny dolls, china dolls, stuffed dolls, and so many stuffed animals in all materials that we literally filled the entire trundle bed with them and still had space left over. At no point did I ever think I was supposed to look like any of my dolls. I DID totally think I was supposed to look like airbrushed magazine girls, which was a whole different problem - they are actual human beings, so it seemed reasonable I should look like them. But dolls are dolls. Cartoons are cartoons. Their caricatured features are cool with me.


@fondue with cheddar poor barbie feet :(

(i think i may have russian friends with that problem.)


I think it's totally fair for adult women to be annoyed by the world offering up yet another iteration of the impossible body standard, even if it is not "directed" at us (currently, anyway--the original Barbie was kind of a porny gag gift for adults, after all). Offense at Barbie is always cloaked in rhetoric about saving the children, but shouldn't we be allowed to say "this thing looks gross and makes ME feel bad, even if it is not marketed directly at me"? Yeah, it's "for kids," but an adult designs it, an adult markets it, and an adult buys it. As with all children's toys, it carries weights from the adult world everywhere it goes and in this case the weight is pretty gross and stupid.

Citizen Christy

@queenofbithynia I found her!


My mistake--it was Stacie, not Kelly. (Kelly would've been old enough for a tumbling class, but definitely not uneven parallel bars.) I had a couple of her friends, too. Those leotards looked pretty fly under all the doll-sized faux jean jackets I had.


@Bunburying of course! & we are allowed to say that and I do say that. I think Barbie is ugly and dumb and the advertising is repellent & yeah, we have to hear what it says about girls/women even if the girls themselves don't hear it or cleverly edit it out.

I have no praise for Barbie qua Barbie at all, apart from what can be done with it. I just think that when people want to talk about how it's bad for girls, they need to operate with some measure of awareness of child psychology and memory of what childhood itself is like, not just what it looks like from the outside. Socialization is incredibly complicated and when you're really young and it's all happening to you for the first time, it doesn't feel the same or make the same kind of sense that it does when you're an adult with a differently developed sense of pattern recognition. (I think.) Everything from the brightly colored television and corporation world is so strange and so otherworldly and I think as adults it's very difficult to go back and realize how it is to encounter these cultural artifacts when you've only just emerged from a world of infancy where everything is a real physical object or sensation, into this new world of layered signifiers. I think all this stuff is stranger to children than anybody can really remember.


@queenofbithynia True. My mother had very strong anti-Barbie feelings, so it wasn't until someone gave me one for a Christmas present that I got one, and she was resentful about it. All that did was make me think that there was some adult secret attached to Barbie that I had to figure out, and hang on to her all the tighter because she might go at any second.

Plant Fire

@iceberg I'm really glad I didn't really think about my own body in connection to Barbie's body when I was a kid. Mostly because I used to chop up all their hair like sonic and pop off their heads and swap them and do all kinds of horrid things (I also popped the arms of a JI Joe doll around the same time). It would have been creepier if it looked like a person.

fondue with cheddar

@queenofbithynia Say what you will about Barbie, but she's still better than Bratz, with their huge, come-hither eyes and gigantic sexualized lips, not to mention the almost nonexistent noses.


@queenofbithynia No I'm sorry, I think you make a great point, but I think you're wrong. Barbies aren't JUST shiny homunculoid plastic on which to psychically project - their form matters. Of course it matters. Barbies aren't for playing mother/wife, they're for learning about being consumer sex objects. They are about shopping/blow jobs. Of course they are.

Little girls play far outside those boundaries, and we are glad of it. But to argue that their hyper-feminized form and hyper-consumer/fashion nature is irrelevant is specious. Their power lies in their huge breasts and desirable, unattainable form. Isn't that why classic tropes of childhood Barbie play are sex and sadism play? Because Barbies are about sex, and kids aren't dumb. They express the conflict they experience about sex and womanhood with their Barbies. They are already angry at bodies, and see women's (and men's) sexualized bodies as requiring punishment.

I think that kids, all kids, use toys in ways they are not intended, and that's great. But the form of Barbies matters.

fondue with cheddar

@RNL I didn't have any Ken dolls, so I would dress one of my Barbies in pants and make her the man. ;)


@fondue with cheddar Yup, my mother had that. Slippers with two-inch heels... *shudder*

Passion Fruit

@RNL I agree that the form of Barbie matters, as does her color. Or at least it did to me. I have distinct memories of feeling sad and envious that Barbie, with her friends, her boyfriend, her endless job opportunities, had tan skin, blue eyes, blonde hair, and I had brown skin, brown eyes, black hair. That mattered a lot to me. It was just another iteration of how completely foreign I was in my environment.

And if you were to ask me what I thought about Barbie as a child, I would NOT have been able to articulate my feelings to you. I would have just expressed gratitude that my (broke immigrant) father was able to buy me a Barbie. I would have been unable to identify and talk about the mixed feelings of inferiority, longing and shame that came up when I played with her.


Call me, Normal-Sized Barbie.


You, me, 1963 Miss Scarlett and Sandy Brockman -- triple date!


Ménage à two fictional characters and a retired schoolteacher. What the hell is wrong with me.


@stuffisthings That sounds awesome.

fondue with cheddar

Wow, is it me or has Barbie gotten WAY skinnier than she was when we were kids?!


@fondue with cheddar
Disproportionate heads! Childhood is freakin' plagues by disproportionate heads.

ETA I mean disproportionate everything, but you could almost wad her body up and stuff it into her head.

fondue with cheddar

@Inkling Yeah, it's pretty freaky. It's like they removed all the leg and boob and put it all into the head. I'm not sure if ANY dolls have proportionate heads.

My brother and I used to play with his GI Joes and my Glamour Gals (basically tiny Barbies) together,* and although they were more realistic than Barbies, they were still taller and much skinnier than the realistically-proportioned Joes.

*The GGs would join the Joes in battle and then come back to the dollhouse for a party! And yes, the Firebird took part in the battle too. :)


@fondue with cheddar GLAMOUR GALS! That just shook loose from my brain some tiny artifact of my childhood! They were the tiniest! Now I want one.

I always remember Barbies being super skinny. I had one from a yard sale that was one of the vintage Barbies...you know, the ones with the sticky-out eyelashes and had the fixed side-eye...like they were throwing shade at Skipper or Midge. She was just as skinny as the ones today.

H.E. Ladypants

@fondue with cheddar I remember her boobs being bigger. But everything seems bigger when you're a kid.


@fondue with cheddar Yeah, something's different from my circa mid-1980s dolls. The head looks bigger, the chest smaller, and the thighs (even) thinner.

fondue with cheddar

@bevrockin I'm not as familiar with the vintage ones, but the Barbies of my childhood were definitely not like the one pictured. Their waists were impossibly narrow, but their hips, shoulders, and thighs are wider.


@fondue with cheddar Apparently there are a BUNCH of Barbie body types: http://thevinylidol.com/2012/07/01/analyzing-barbie-body-types/. Mine was like the vintage one on that page (complete with that black wig, removed to reveal a short PLASTIC hairdo). It does appear that Barbie shoulders, hips and busts are less dramatic now.

In that pic above, the one on the left is Miko, who I think was supposed to have been from Hawaii. I had her.


Anyone else have Barbie's thicker-waisted, small-chested, flat-footed cousin Jazzie?

@bevrockin I totally had Miko!


OK, so I'm PRETTY sure the average 19 year old has more of a neck than that.


@Megasus Yes! I was just about to ask if the neck looked short to anyone else!

But mayyyyybe I'm just brainwashed by years of playing with Swan Neck Barbie (tm).

does it need saying

@Megasus One of the comments on the page suggested to look at the Average Measurements Doll without seeing the Barbie (tm) for a while and you may be able to see it without the Barbie (tm) filter. Although the 1st picture head-on is a really bad angle for AMD (like us!)


I'm probably being weirdly hypersensitive to it but it's driving me nuts that people are passing this around going "Barbie looks like a normal person!" when really what it is is that "Barbie looks like one variant of an actual human body type."

fondue with cheddar

@Scandyhoovian Yeah, and a rare one at that!


@Scandyhoovian Exactly. First of all, "average" is not nearly the same thing as "normal," and second, even using American data, "average" is not "light-skinned, white, blue eyes."

fondue with cheddar

@SarcasticFringehead Seriously. Remember that National Geographic where they made a photo composite of the average person? If I remember correctly, she looked Mediterranean, with medium skin, dark hair, and dark eyes.


@SarcasticFringehead Oddly enough, Betty Crocker did something kind of similar when they were designing the "new Betty." They made a composite of a zillion (or whatever) photographs of women and made new Betty out of that. She had dark hair, eyes, and a medium complexion. And a string of pearls and a hairdo like a conservative wife on the campaign trail.


OH MY LAND this is completely off topic, but this JUST reminded me of a game we used to play with our neighbours...we had a disembodied Stacey head who we said was the ghost of a girl who died in a car crash, and she was Ken's best friend but only he could see her ghost head, and our Jasmine doll was the 'popular' girl. I always had to be the Stacey ghost head...I feel like this explains so much about me.


@lora.bee Also! Did anyone have the pregnant Barbie?? We had the one whose stomach flipped around to be flat. I feel like we have discussed this on the 'Pin before..


@lora.bee That sounds completely realistic to me. My sisters and I used to have soap opera dramas with our Barbies. Weddings were usually staged, one of my sisters made clothes out of toilet paper, and my brother joined in. It was totally a family affair.

I accept that there is alot wrong with Barbie's image and everything, but it was fantastic to play with as a kid. I didn't expect to look like her, but I enjoyed acting out the scenarios that I thought was adult life (i.e. what I had seen in Soap Operas).

I wish I had the Pregnant Barbie. It was the coolest thing.


@lora.bee I think I had a pregnant barbie? I feel like she had two stomach...attachment things, and one of them was a pregnant belly with a tiny baby inside. Except when I try to think about it, it seems really bizarre, like maybe I'm confusing my barbies with my visible woman kit?


@lora.bee Pregnant Midge, and I wished I did. Because she and Alan were totally married and that makes it OKAY. Remember the Walmart kerfluffle when she originally didn't have a visible wedding ring, or am I aging myself here?


@amitygardens@twitter My brother and I always played together when we were weesters, so we married Skipper to Carnage (who was an oversized action figure and matched her height) and they were the rulers of all the Ninja Turtles. Good times.


I am kind of in love with new Barbie's butt, and I cannot lie.


@Linette Cuz when a girl walks in with a medium-sized waist and a medium-sized thing in your face you get sprung

fondue with cheddar

@Linette Seriously, I looked at it far longer than I care to admit.

Laughable Walrus

@fondue with cheddar I'm maybe inappropriately into Average Barbie's legs, too. Girl looks fit.


Average Barbie looks like she could seriously kick ass and take names. I like that.


I discovered pretty quickly that Jem's clothing and shoes fit Ken (and my brother's throw-back GI Joes). Drag Queen Ken is the best game.

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