New Barbie, New Body Image Movement

Barbie has been a feminine icon since her debut in 1959. Many have tried to model themselves after beloved barbie, the woman who is the epitome of beauty and seems to have everything. Women have undergone extreme surgical measures to achieve measurements similar to Barbie, who has always been seen as having the perfect body. If Barbie were a real woman and not a doll, her measurements would look something like this:

  • 5’9” tall
  • 39” bust
  • 18” waist
  • Size 3 shoe
  • Approximately 110 pounds
  • BMI of 16.24

New Barbie, New Body Image Movement

Concerningly, Barbie’s real life measurements would have her fit the weight criteria for a diagnosis of anorexia. Yet, for decades, women have clamored over the tiny figure’s tiny figure.

Unrealistic beauty standards reach far beyond toy shop shelves. Every day, women are faced with thousands of advertisements that use photoshop and digital alteration to turn models into real life barbie dolls. The expectations and standards of advertised beauty are impossible. Additionally, the message is unrelenting. Unless women look like this, do these things, and use these products, they are not beautiful. Indeed, women’s advertising thrives on inverted psychology which states “You’re okay the way you are, but you could be even better. Better is more beautiful.”

Today, there is a new movement in body image, inspiring women to embrace their true forms and their true selves. For years, Barbie manufacturing company Mattel has resisted the trend. In 2016 Mattel released a series of Barbie dolls with more realistic figures, skin colors, hairstyles, and even occupations. As 2016 sees the election of a new American president, Barbie has already claimed the position.

Reactions to Barbie’s change is being received positively- both by consumers and by Mattel. Barbie sales saw a rise of 23% in Mattel’s second quarter. Though the overall sales numbers for the second quarter are lower than last year, Mattel says they would have been even lower were it not for Barbie’s new style.

Barbie may be just a toy, but as a cultural icon and globally known name, she has a lot of power. Body positivity is a revolutionary movement, yet it is equally met with ongoing body shaming and dangerous trends for maximizing thinness. Seeing normalizing and empowering changes in one of the world’s most famous women is inspiring to girls everywhere, young and old.