Maybe Barbie Will Blossom into a Real Girl Someday

For years now, critics have blasted Mattel’s ever-popular Barbie for her unnatural proportions—so unnatural that if Barbie were a real person, her neck would be too small to hold up her head and her BMI so low she would be classified as anorexic.

Not exactly the sort of ideal for young girls to strive toward.

Some say Barbie is merely a toy, that her influence over young kids is conjecture at best. But illustrator Nikolay Lamm thinks otherwise. The Huffington Post reports how Lamm sees it:

“Yes, Barbie is just a toy. At the same time, it’s a toy which young girls play with and want to be like. If we assume that Barbie is 19 years old, shouldn’t girls have access to toys which resemble realistic proportions?”

Lamm believes they should. He has been working on computer-generated imagery of what a more natural, realistic Barbie might look like, based on the typical proportions of the average 19-year-old woman. His renderings prove that a more natural Barbie is not less attractive. He has now taken the project a step further, generating a 3D Barbie-sized model using those same measurements from his CG images.

Viewing the original side-by-side with Lamm’s mock-up, the differences are stunning. Lamm’s realistic doll looks, well, like a real person. Mattel’s Barbie looks ridiculously unnatural. I had always known Barbie’s proportions were extreme, but until I saw the two together, I wasn’t so bothered by her too-thin waist and excessively long legs (and feet). Now that I’ve seen them together, my knee-jerk reaction is that I want all girls everywhere to be discouraged from playing with a doll that depicts a woman who would be so thin she wouldn’t be a functioning human being. What sort of ideal is that? I don’t think a real-life Barbie would be so smiley.

Over the years, I’ve battled my own desire to be Barbie-like—tall, trim, toned, tanned, and all that. Perhaps maturity has weakened my obsessions; perhaps God’s grace is growing larger than my obsessions. Either way, the battles I’ve had I would not wish upon the generations to come. Did the Barbie dolls I played with as a girl contribute to these battles? I will never know for sure. But I would love to see Mattel’s Barbie blossom into a real human being, all Pinocchio-like, and see if the generations to come are relieved of the impossible, unhealthy ideal. It would be wonderful for girls to learn to bask in the beauty and glory of their God-crafted selves, vessels meant to carry the weight of His glory to the world.

About Erin Straza

Erin Straza (Associate Editor) is a freelance writer, editor, and marketing communications consultant, helping organizations tell their stories in authentic and compelling ways. After a stint in corporate marketing while earning her MBA, Erin taught marketing communications at Illinois Wesleyan and Illinois State. She is crafting her first book, writing from the Illinois flatlands where she lives with her husband, Mike. Find more from Erin at her blog Filling My Patch of Sky and on Twitter @ErinStraza.
E-mail: erin [at] FillingMyPatchOfSky [dot] com
Blog: Filling My Patch of Sky
Twitter: @ErinStraza