“Barbie” exists in a not so Barbie World

Gracie Deichler, opinion editor

Eating issues and disorders among teens may now be traced to one well-known person.  According to the National Eating Disorder Association, “as many as 10 million Americans are now struggling with eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia.” Believe it or not, we all know or have owned someone who struggles with this disease. Her name is Barbie.

Standing at  6 feet tall with a whopping weight of 110 pounds, Barbie would have a BMI of 14.9, meaning she would be extremely underweight.  Her 16-inch waist would also be four inches smaller than her head, only leaving a small amount of room for half a liver and a few inches of intestine.  Barbie’s 3.5 inch wrists and 6-inch ankles wouldn’t allow her to do any sort of heavy lifting. Barbie’s head would be two times larger than the average measurement and support a neck twice as long and six inches thinner than a normal neck. With this, it would be virtually impossible for Barbie to support and lift her head. Despite missing much of an average human’s content, Barbie would be required to walk on all fours due to her fragile body.

After toy company and creator Mattel Inc. took the hint and finally waved the white flag to the battle it’s been having with customers for years, Barbie will no longer be just one body type, skin or hair color. Mattel Inc. is now making Barbies with three new body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 different hair styles.  A study done by two British doctors showed that Barbie made girls insecure about their image, which may contribute indirectly to insecurity and eating disorders later in life. Some may argue that Barbie shouldn’t be changed because she’s just a doll. But if you were raised playing with her, it’s almost like she is real and your friend. In the study, reported in the Journal of Developmental Psychology, researchers from Sussex and the University of the West of England studied the effect of showing images of two dolls to almost 200 elementary school girls with ages varying from  five to eight. The girls were shown pictures of different dolls. The two included were Barbie and Emme. If you are unfamiliar with Emme, she is a new American doll whose body proportions represent a larger body shape.  Emme was created when  the company’s founder saw how much backlash Barbie was receiving. After looking at the pictures, the subjects were asked to pick which doll accurately represented their body shape and body shape. The results of the experiment showed that girls ages five to six were upset and unsatisfied with themselves and their weight after seeing Barbie doll images. When asked what they wanted to look like, the girls wished for extremely thin bodies, much like Barbie’s. For those aged 6 to 7, the negative self image statistic was even stronger. At those ages you don’t even know what puberty is yet. So why are girls this young so unsatisfied with their own bodies? Because Barbie has done nothing but brainwash them into thinking she is what you should strive to be when you grow up.

Mattel Inc. is moving in the right direction by making models to fit actual human conditions and measurement, but I fear that this comes a little too late in the game for Barbie to see any sort of increase in sales. With so many other companies who watched Barbie face harsh criticism and made different types of dolls, it could be too late for Barbie and she may be a doll of the past.