Feminist Philosophers

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Barbie even more unrealistic now than in 1990 January 6, 2011

Filed under: appearance — redeyedtreefrog @ 4:36 pm

Barbie body

From here. Thanks, Andrew!

 

49 Responses to “Barbie even more unrealistic now than in 1990”

  1. Matt Says:

    Well, at least she has a head now, unlike in the 90’s. That has to count for something.

  2. jj Says:

    And she has a bit of a butt, as opposed to the flat rear ideal that had inspired despair inthanh of us who bulged out in snickering worthy places.

  3. M Says:

    Is this really less realistic? Maybe I’ve been deluded from too much media exposure the past few days, but Barbie looks more…human than her 90’s counterpart. Skinnier, yes, but only in the upper-torso region.
    Now, that’s not to say she’s a healthy ideal or anything.

  4. J-Bro Says:

    It looks like a more plausible body shape to me. Not saying it’s typical or anything stupid like that, just that there are women with torsos shaped that way, while I really haven’t seen the shape on the left.

  5. Vi Says:

    At first glance, the ’90’s Barbie looks relatively paradigmatically masculine (less of an ass; broad shoulders and chest) and the later Barbie looks relatively feminine (more of an ass, narrower ribcage). I’d also venture to say she looks more robust than a typical model.

  6. redeyedtreefrog Says:

    Yeah, I think it’s just a different unrealistic ideal, not actually worse, on reflection.

  7. Synaesthetik Says:

    I think some text might be helpful here…Do you mean it’s more unrealistically thin? Yes.

    I would, however, say that her boob-to hip ratio is more likely now than it was in 1990…

    And I’d also say that, unfortunately, with the prevalence of plastic surgery, our idea of what women are “supposed” to look like is closer to Barbie… My friends and I always wanted to make “real” Barbie with a BMI of about 30…Make her thighs rub together. ha.

    Barbie on the right looks underfed but proportional…Thanks for sharing. :)

  8. chris y Says:

    No less realistic, but unrealistic is a different way. The 00 proportions are completely Marvel comic, but the rib cage on the 90s model look more australopithecine than human.

  9. mm Says:

    The newer barbie looks more realistic, but the more worrisome thing for me is that she also looks more “sexualized” (I don’t know the right term to use, sorry) — the way her back is arched, etc. whereas the older barbie, whatever her proportion problems, at least looks to be in a “neutral” pose. is anyone else getting this impression too, or is it just me? the new barbie i find much more creepy…

  10. Ben Says:

    I don’t know, mm.. Most people have anterior hip tilt — especially women. It’s maybe kind of excessive on the 00s Barbie, but I don’t think that makes the doll sexualized. Lots of women have hips just like that (excessive anterior hip tilt is actually a very common problem for women who don’t train with weights).

  11. Sarah Says:

    I’m not sure I would say it’s more unrealistic than the older one – like J-Bro said, I’ve never seen ANYONE with a body like the one on the left. But the one on the right looks quite a lot like how my own body is actually shaped (albeit a little bit bustier, I’m barely an A-cup).

    I would say that in order for her to really be unrealistically catering to the current ideal, she would have to have much larger breasts than she does.

  12. J-Bro Says:

    Leaving aside, for a moment, the undisputed fact that the body image these dolls promote is damaging because only a small portion of the population can (or should) realistically achieve it, there’s another issue here.

    Barbies are designed to have a certain look, but they’re designed to have whatever that look is with clothes on, rather than when they’re naked. This is an important point, because scaled-down clothing doesn’t drape or flex the way full-scale clothing does (the cloth is proportionally much thicker and stiffer, seams are even more so, it won’t hang under its own weight because it doesn’t have any). So a scaled down dress, for instance, won’t look the same way on a scale model of a person as it would on the actual person.

    That’s part of the reason the heads are so big, proportionally. The doll’s clothes will add a lot more proportional bulk than a real person’s would, so if the head were realistically-sized, it would look small if the doll were dressed.

    The hip tilt on the right isn’t unrealistic, though it’s certainly toward the high end of the range. Even for a depiction of the type of physique they’re showing, the waist seems unusually small (within the range of people out there for certain, but definitely toward one end of the curve). You could readily find women who look like that with a Google search, though. I’m also surprised that they didn’t make the cup size larger given (1) current fashion/surgery trends, (2) the general reputation of Barbies, and (3) the fact that it will look smaller when the doll has scale clothes on.

    But when you’re analyzing what these dolls look like, and the possible intent behind it, I think it’s important to recognize that they’re actually designing for the clothes-on look rather than what we’re looking at here.

    Side note: I suspect current fashions (bare midriffs especially) may be driving the change. The newer one would look more “realistic” (assuming realism means “like a fashion model or young actress”) in a bare-midriffed outfit than the one on the left.

  13. MOD Says:

    Barbie got back …pain.

  14. Matt Says:

    I suspect that the really odd rib-cage of the older Barbie is a result of wanting her to look very busy when dressed, but not wanting the doll itself to have hugely protruding breasts. In that sense, it’s like how Barbie’s feet are always in high-heel shape- not something that’s meant to be real, but to make her look a certain way when “dressed up”.

  15. Richard Says:

    Less realistic? It is at least twice as realistic as the 90’s model next to it. What kind of a body do you have?

  16. gruff Says:

    another vote for 00s barbie looking more realistic that 90s barbie

  17. [...] Barbie even more unrealistic now than in 1990 « Feminist Philosophers. [...]

  18. justanotherfemalephilosopher Says:

    I can’t help but think about the Barbie I had when I was growing up (70s Barbie) with its poke-your-eye-out pointy breasts. Really, it should have been a 50s Barbie. Frankly, as a girl I found it matronly and was much more fond of the look of my Olga Korbut doll! I’m not sure where I am going with this, except I guess to say that it’s clear that these dolls are trying to track the “in” look, which is not just about thinness.

  19. R Flowers Says:

    Why is everyone upset that Barbie is not realistically proportioned? In the pioneer days, little girls played with dollies made out of clothespins. No one was under any illusion that babies should have a round head, straight cylindrical bodies, and two straight, symmetrical legs.

  20. grud Says:

    Because we Americans are even more stupid now than in 1890

  21. Michel X. Says:

    Morbid curiosity: how do the Ken dolls compare across time?

  22. Hilary Says:

    I don’t understand this article. The 00’s Barbie is far more realistic than the 90’s who has an enormous barrel chest and tiny hips, in other words she looks like a man with some small breasts dumped on top. The 00’s doll looks quite like a slim young girl, with a waist, hips and a bottom. She does not look like a middle aged or overweight girl, but do we expect that? What is the problem? Getting upset about these little details makes feminists look paranoid and obsessive, there are far more important issues.

  23. jv Says:

    On a separate matter, any suggestions if you have a little girl who is mad on Barbie and you don’t want her to pick up the idea that Barbie, from whatever decade, looks normal or realistic? Or do you just have to wait in the hope that she grows out of it?!

  24. I sometimes think we bat these issues around a little too much. The vast majority of girls or boys that play with dolls all turn out to be just fine regardless of what a doll or toy portrays. Take a look at your self, did you turn out alright despite growing up with a plastic doll of he-man or the like? More than likely you turned out just fine.

  25. zeebleoop Says:

    @jv

    “On a separate matter, any suggestions if you have a little girl who is mad on Barbie and you don’t want her to pick up the idea that Barbie, from whatever decade, looks normal or realistic? Or do you just have to wait in the hope that she grows out of it?!”

    yes, sit down and talk to her about the differences between a doll and a real person. communication is a wonderful thing!

  26. Anonymous Says:

    Anonymous because I’m talking about family issues here:

    Very much in agreement with the “talk to your kids about how dolls don’t look like people” theory.

    I grew up playing with Barbies incessantly, and have one of the most positive body images of anyone I know – I’m 5’6″, 150 lbs and perfectly okay with myself. The “Barbies don’t look like people” conversation was had several times in my childhood. I knew that and was OK with it. I was just using them as a storytelling tool: replaced with action figures in my teens, then with writing. I still think about them nostalgically and periodically consider starting a collection as an adult, as a way of getting back to my roots, perhaps using them to block out stories in progress.

    Somewhere between raising myself and my younger sister, my mom started having Issues, and started berating my sister about her weight. (My sister wasn’t all that fat, even.)

    My sister is now taller and thinner than me, thinks she’s fat and has eating disorder issues. She barely ever played with dolls.

    There are important, deep influences in a child’s life: pieces of plastic are one of the least. Toys are a blank canvas; the details of what matters are filled in by family and friends. I’m still really angry with my mother over this; angrier still since she denies any knowledge of the behavior that I watched and spoke up about at the time. I feel like the control group in a small study of damage done by poisonous remarks. She told me a piece of valuable wisdom and then told my sister just the opposite.

  27. MDL Says:

    Sigh…. I know I’m 28, but , man, I loved my Barbie back in the day :)

  28. Ryan Says:

    I understand how you could worry when looking at the newer barbies and seeing them slimming down further, but I have to give the designers props in that barbie no longer looks like gym addict who only works their torso.

    Tiny arms and legs with a mighty barrel chest? Tell me when ANYONE has EVER seen a woman with the proportions of the 90’s barbie. She has a wrestlers thorax…

  29. Paige Says:

    MORE unrealistic? Um… no. The BMI might be cringe-worthy but the chest no longer looks like a wedge of cheese.

  30. grth Says:

    The chest/ribcage only looks big on the old barbie compared to the butt/hips. Look at the size of the new barbie’s head next to her ribs. That would not be found in nature.

    The new Barbie has better bodily proportions but the whole body needs to be bigger compared to that head.

  31. touv Says:

    What does the front/back view look like?

  32. [...] Thanks Feminist Philosophers ! [...]

  33. srsly Says:

    this has less to do with realistic body type, and more to do with the its sending message. The point is that the babies now are skinnier-the message is “this is how good looking people look.” The theory is that they are purposely sending this message to children.

  34. Mark Says:

    All I know, is that it’s not unrealistic for me. My wife actually looks a lot like the ’00’s Barbie.

  35. faza Says:

    nice…^_^v…………nice…^_^v…

  36. Anonymous Says:

    Barbie keeps getting smaller and smaller & Ken, larger and larger.

    It’s sad to think that our children’s toys have to portray what American Society thinks a sexy women should look like.

    It’s obvious that women are still seen as smaller than man.

    Too bad it’s plastic gentlemen. Get a real women!

  37. Emma Says:

    I prefer 90’s Barbie since she’s more obviously unrealistic. Watching lots of cartoons doesn’t make girls think they’re ugly for not having black outlines. Seeing lots of pictures of photoshopped models can make girls think thyey’re ugly for not looking like a photoshopped model. To me 90’s Barbie looks like she’s more on the side of the cartoons and 00’s Barbie is closer to the photoshopped models.

  38. k Says:

    Everyone keeps saying that the 00s Barbie looks more realistic realistic. My question is: since when did we want children’s toys to be realistic? Why is realistic valued as positive?

  39. Bill Says:

    I have to agree with most of the other comments and say that the new Barbie is far more realistic than the old one. People complained (rightfully so) for a long time that the old one had unrealistic proportions, and the company finally responded by making her more realistic. She may have a body only possessed by a small percentage of women, but she used to have a body possessed by no woman who had ever lived. Seems like a step in the right direction, to me.

    I also wouldn’t say they made her “thinner”. I’d say they added hips/rear like an actual woman might have and made her chest a realistic size rather than cartoonishly huge.

  40. sekold Says:

    I love the internet – it actually brings porn to you now.

  41. profbigk Says:

    It always did. (And what about the linked image is pornographic? It’s just a naked woman.)

  42. [...] think it’s surprising that she’s been made over.  I found evidence for the Barbie make-over at Feminist Philosophers.  They put up the image below showing how Barbie’s torso was changed in the 2000s to one that [...]

  43. mconahan Says:

    Seems like a positive thing that they are exaggerating the size of her brain case.

  44. mconahan Says:

    I mean, are they holding up a larger brain as an ideal?

  45. lara Says:

    i think this isn’t about realism. it shows how our image of an ideal body shape has changed since the 90s. back then, it was just about having a big bust. nowadays you need to have a really tiny waist and you definitely need a big protuding butt and a hyperlordosis. i don’t know… i prefer the old barbie. it was just “form follows function” (to twist the doll’s waist), whereas the new barbie clearly shows a much more sexualized body shape.
    what it all boils down to: in the 90s it was just breast implants. today it’s also liposuction and butt implants. in my opinion, this is not exactly an improvement.

  46. gruffles Says:

    In my two years of following the comments on this post that is one of the few answers actually provocative of thought. Lara, I thank you.


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