• Mon, Dec 23 - 5:30 pm ET

If You Have A Problem With ‘Fat Barbie,’ You Should Have A Problem With ‘Disproportionately Skinny’ Barbie, Too

The Plus Size Modeling page on Facebook asked it’s readers a question this week: Should toy companies start making plus sized Barbie dolls? They used a winning image of a plus sized Barbie from Worth1000.com – a site where artists compete in daily creative competitions – to illustrate their question:



Over 36,000 “liked” the image on Facebook, so there are definitely those who are into the idea of a larger Barbie. But, as expected there was the usual round-up of fat shaming quotes that go along with a story like this.

I think everyone understands that obesity – having a body fat percentage of 30% or more – is not healthy. We get it. It is way better for you to be at a healthy weight. My problem with the “fat isn’t healthy” arguments that inevitably circle stories like these is simple – why is it okay to model a completely unhealthy body type if the pendulum swings in the other direction? Super skinny is always okay. Fat – nope.

Do I think it’s okay to model obesity to young kids by making a fat Barbie? Well, why not? There are plenty of dolls that model images that I may not feel are ideal. Have you seen the makeup on a Bratz Doll? Holy hideous. What about the questionable fashion choices of the Monster High Dolls? I would never let my high schooler leave the house in one of those outfits. There are plenty of dolls out there that grate on our nerves and offend our sensibilities – but they still exist. Why shouldn’t this one, too?

I loved Barbies when I was a kid. I don’t recall ever feeling like I literally wanted to look like one, though. What would be the harm of manufacturing an obese Barbie? Might we actually for once represent some body types that are never represented in this arena? Gasp! That would be awful. Dolls are a fantasy. If we can indulge in the fantasy of skeletal teenagers and Barbies with a waist size never seen on a human, ever – I don’t see why we can’t throw some big thighs into the mix.


You can reach this post's author, Maria Guido, on twitter.
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  • brebay

    Anorexia and obesity are the only two options, huh?

    • Natasha B

      This. Where’s cross fit Barbie? Normal sized Barbie? Swimmer Barbie with the shoulders to prove it?

  • KaeTay

    I think we should have realistic sized dolls. I don’t care if a doll is plus sized it wouldn’t offend me the slightest. Hell I’m hoping to have all sorts of dolls for my daughter as she grows up.. black.. asian.. white I want her to know about other cultures.

  • brebay

    I have to agree with the author though about the influence of dolls. I had Barbies, I never thought about wanting to look like them, I mean, they’re plastic. I dealt with eating disorders and was hospitalized several times in my teens and twenties. A lot of things contributed to it; none of which were dolls, or magazines, or media. And to be honest, in all the ridiculous “group session” nonsense they make you sit through, I never heard anyone give any of these as reasons. Anxiety, personality type, trauma, and family dynamics, control, (mothers who food policed were a biggie, as was sexual abuse) were at the root, no one ever felt any of the media reasons contributed to theirs. I think these are reasons people like to hold responsible to let themselves off the hook as parents, kind of like blaming music and video games for school violence.

    • Teleute

      Couldn’t agree more!

  • Janok Place

    Now hold on guys. Seriously this is getting really old. It’s exhausting being perpetually told that, since you have “Barbie” figure you are thus “disproportionate” and “unhealthy”. I mean it, it’s hurtful, just because I’m thin like a model does not make me automatically unhealthy or anorexic. Bashing one body type to promote another is completely unfair and skinny girls are insecure too.

    That said, I’m totally on board with plus size barbie…. and I’m totally on board with flat Barbie, and regular Barbie, all of the shapes, It would be nice to have all body shapes and the clothes to accommodate them so that kids see everyone is included and beautiful because we are all different and those differences should be celebrated.

    • Alicia Kiner

      I like the idea of making dolls that just look real. Not necessarily like specific people, but just similar at least. My 8 yr old got one of those American Girl type dolls last year for Christmas and it actually looked like her. She was amazed. This doll even has some Asian features without being an Asian doll. It’s cool.

    • Janok Place

      I totally get that, I love the American Girl dolls and think they are wonderful. However, being told that your figure looks unnatural, skeletal, unhealthy, anorexic, etc is offensive and there are real people who look like that. Honestly I’ve received more insult then compliment in my life because of it. I think people need to stop judging, and start appreciating their differences. Harping on us skeletons of the world isn’t helping anyone. I feel for my daughter, it’s tough being at any extreme and in all likelyhood she will be stuck at my end of the spectrum. There’s no reason it should be difficult to live in your own skin, I don’t care what size you are.

    • Alicia Kiner

      I agree with you completely.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      There is no way you have a body like Barbie. It’s impossible – so you really shouldn’t take offense to that.

    • http://www.benwhoski.com/ Benwhoski

      Specifically, if you don’t snap in half at the waist when you try to sit up, you do not have a body like a Barbie doll.

    • Janok Place

      Being a DDD32 and a 00 waist certainly earns you a lot of comparisons to the doll throughout your life. My point still stands, referring to thin people as skeletal, disproportionate, unhealthy etc is hurtful to young girls, whether people want to believe that or not. I’ve been accused of being a drug addict, anorexic, incapable of nourishing a fetus, and a host of other comments which were less then pleasant and entirely untrue. I understand what you’re trying to say, I just think there’s a more inclusive way of giving other figures a boost in their self esteem without making others feel inferior.

    • http://www.benwhoski.com/ Benwhoski

      Oh, I agree that body-shaming in any form is bad and generally not useful.

      I just don’t think the intent here was to call actual skinny people “disproportionate”, but that Barbie and many other fashion-centered dolls *actually* are, in the sense that they would have nowhere to keep many of their major organs and they would not be structurally sound if their proportions were directly translated to real life. In this way, it really *is* hypocritical for people who would bash the idea of a “plus size” Barbie, but not have any problem at all with the default Barbie.

    • Kay_Sue

      Yeah, there’s a difference between skinny and not having room for a liver. Or pancreas, for that matter.

    • http://twitter.com/mariaguido Maria Guido

      Exactly! I’m not talking about people here when I use the word “skeletal.” Monster High dolls actually are skeletons! And Barbie IS disproportionately skinny.

    • Janok Place

      Ah see and I read skeletal teenagers, and not skeletal Monster High Dolls.

    • Byron

      Barbie looks cartoon-like as far as her design goes so her being
      “unrealistic” is irrelevent. She’s designed how she is because it’s a
      fantasy and it looks appealing to the eye. Not sure whose eye, but their
      success and enduring existence in the toy world testifies to that. It’s
      like whining about the flintstones having 4 fingers when you whine
      about her waist, it’s just dumb.

      Now, as for fat barbie, she
      looks extremely unappealing to me. (as opposed to the merely neutral
      “it’s a doll…” responce the normal one gives me)

      I think
      it is fine to say that you dislike something on purely aesthetic reasons
      and people shouldn’t be offended others don’t find dolls of their size
      appealing since they (nor anybody else) have no right to be found
      appealing by anyone so they should have no expectation of it.

      In the end, the skinny one is just less of an assault on the eyes, for whatever reason. I have no interest in thinking about weather or not a doll throws up to look this way in her fictional canon and then bashing her, that sounds like a waste of time. The fat one, you just kinda have to look at her and you kinda get all the information.

      “lololo she loves cake!”

      There, done, no need to overthinkg stuff.

    • G.E. Phillips

      Just an FYI, there are plenty of people who find normal, average, plus size, and even obese people “appealing” and “a fantasy.” Also, there are plenty of skinny people who love cake. There are probably also plenty of people who think you’re a douche right now for saying what you said, just so you know.

    • Teleute

      Nearly every loves cake; I’m sure Barbie would be no exception. The Barbie on the left would eat it all in a single sitting, while one on the right would exercise far better portion control by pausing between slices to stick a perfectly-manicured finger down her lovely little throat.

      How much do you wanna bet that the fat one has better teeth?

    • G.E. Phillips

      “The Barbie on the left would eat it all in a single sitting, while one
      on the right would exercise far better portion control by pausing
      between slices to stick a perfectly-manicured finger down her lovely
      little throat.”

      Another gross generalization.

    • Teleute

      It was a joke!

    • G.E. Phillips

      Oh, good! Sorry, Byron’s comment got my hackles up a bit!!! :)

    • wondering

      prove it..

    • KaeTay

      I agree with you. I’ve always been underweight and had trouble gaining weight because I have a metabolism that works better than the average person. I’ve had my thyroid looked at 3 times.. I’m healthy as a horse! I was picked on for being skinny.. from age 13 until 25 I was a size 1 (in juniors) and 100lbs now i’m around 110 after gaining 40lbs while pregnant.

      A friend of mine who is plus size used to ask me why I wouldn’t change clothes infront of her (I was staying with her in her dorm) and I finally admitted and told her because of the remarks she makes about how skinny I am that she picks on me for it and it wasn’t until I said something that she realized what she had actually been saying and apologized to me. It’s one of the things my plus sized friends and I have in common, we were picked on for our weight and shopping for clothes is a nightmare.

    • Janok Place

      I’m sorry for your troubles. I actually went through a phase of trying to gain weight where I ate incredibly unhealthy foods en masse. I ended up hospitalized with a bleeding ulcer and a host of other issues. I’m so glad your friend understood once it was explained to her. Most people are so caught up in their own insecurities that they can’t appreciate other people with entirely different bodies can have very similar issues.

    • Katia

      A practical suggestion- if shopping for clothes is a nightmare, your weight sounds extremely consistent so perhaps it’s a good excuse to buy nice quality things and have them tailored (find a cheap tailor!)

    • noelle 02

      I don’t like the idea for one simple reason: it would require purchasing even more Barbie clothes to fit the doll! I hate that they are playing around with Barbie’s proportions because it means that my daughter can’t just pull out an outfit and put it on a doll Same with shoes. My girl, just like me, just wants to play with her dolls and dress them up and fix their hair and pretend she is a grown up. It would be nice if the clothes were still interchangeable! I hated as a kid that Ken had gotten bigger because I couldn’t use my mom’s old Ken doll clothes on my Kens nor my new clothes on theirs. The problem is exponentially worse now.

    • Copperkroewe

      I read somewhere once, that if a woman really existed with the dimensions that Barbie has, she would be unable to walk. I do get called skinn y all the time, when I really just have a petite frame and it can be hurtful.

  • http://wtfihaveakid.blogspot.ca/ jendra_berri

    My mom favoured my Jem doll because of her natural shape. That sort of thing is an option. I didn’t care for Jem because she couldn’t fit into my Barbie’s wardrobe. But other than that, she was a superior doll. Her joints moved better.
    Google the ’80s Jem doll and you’ll see what I mean. Thicker waist, smaller breasts, proportioned hips. But let’s be serious. An obese Barbie would tank hard. The little girls wouldn’t likely want to play with her for the same reasons I didn’t care for Jem: No interchangeable wardrobe.

  • BFD

    How about a size 14 equivalent Barbie? Instead of going to extremes, imagine a Barbie that was the size of the average American woman. I think that would be brilliant.

    As a side note, statements like “I think everyone understands that obesity – having a body fat percentage of 30% or more – is not healthy. We get it. It is way better for you to be at a healthy weight” can be really problematic. Body fat percentage does not tell you everything about a person’s health. And we have yet to figure out to get most fat people to a “healthy [read: smaller] weight” permanently, so… yeah.

    • http://www.benwhoski.com/ Benwhoski

      Agreed on that being a problematic statement. It is much more accurate to say that there are a number of health risks that are correlated with obesity (and as correlation does not equal causation, it is unclear in many of those cases whether the obesity causes the health risk, or the health risk causes the obesity). I definitely fall into the “obese” category, but when it comes to my heart, my blood pressure, my cholesterol and blood sugar, I consistently check out to be very healthy with my doctors. With the exception of a chronic issue I’ve had since infancy (and thus, cannot really be tied to my adult weight), I cannot really be called “unhealthy”. Just fat :)

    • Katia

      I know that not all obese people have cholesterol and heart issues, and that many people who do not appear overweight do have these issues.
      But is it not true that having a higher bmi increases the risk of all other issues? your organs work harder so get weaker faster….
      For example, cancer, joint strain, etc! There are always studies about this…

    • http://www.benwhoski.com/ Benwhoski

      I noted the correlation between obesity and other risk factors in my comment.

      My point is that you cannot determine who is healthy and who is not simply by looking at their weight/size. Fat people aren’t automatically “unhealthy” and thin people aren’t automatically “healthy”.

    • RageFace

      I agree yo. Whenever there’s a fat person on the Internet the Health Police put on their sirens and come preach about how it’s “not healthy to be fat, you guys!”

      Seriously, those articles of women making peace with their bodies ALWAYS have the Health Police who bitch on and on about the supposed health of the author. “Yes that’s all fine and well and YOU GO GIRL! but you’re still UNHEALTHY!”
      What they’re REALLY doing is still fat-shaming and implying that even though the author of said article ACCEPTS HERSELF there is still something wrong with her.

      I know thin people who are much more unhealthy than I am with all the cigarettes they smoke and all the drugs they use but I shut up about it because I’m fat.

      Because hey, what do I know? “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”, right?

    • liberaltraitors

      You should fat shame. You should also smoke and dope shame, and whore shame, too.

      People need to be told they are gross, or they’ll spread the mental disease on to others, and this nation doesn’t need more dross.

    • RageFace

      Cool. Please DO show us all a photograph of your perfectly toned, healthy body, would you? I’m sure you are an absolute MODEL citizen.

    • liberaltraitors

      Nude or clothed?
      No, you aren’t worthy. Don’t try to drag me down to your level, tubby. Now, go accept yourself with a nice bowl of ice cream or a Twinkie. When you are done, do a sit up … or try to.

  • Kay_Sue

    I too don’t get why it has to be one extreme or the other. Can’t we have a Barbie that just looks like an average woman?

  • CW

    How about just a medium-sized Barbie? Not too fat, not too thin. We should not be glamorizing being overweight OR underweight. A doll with normal proportions, please!

  • Kthomps

    Can’t we just have healthy Barbie?

  • AP

    “I loved Barbies when I was a kid. I don’t recall ever feeling like I literally wanted to look like one, though.”

    THANK YOU! I loved Barbies too, and I never thought Barbie was anything to aspire to. Barbie can’t stand when barefoot, her joints barely bend, her armpits have a grapefruit bulge, her clothes are nearly impossible to pull on, her hair rips out in chunks if you brush it too many times, her head randomly pops off, and it says ‘Made in China’ on her ass.

    We don’t assume kids think other toys are real. I don’t know why we personify Barbie to that extent.

    • pixie

      I think the only thing about Barbie I aspired to was the size of her wardrobe. Like when I was 6, I didn’t care about the boobs or the skinny waist or the hips, but damn did I want all those super-tacky 90s outfits. Oh, and she had a pretty sweet house, too.

    • Ddaisy

      And the horses! My Barbies had so many horses to ride!

    • liberaltraitors

      I know lots of chicks with “Made in China” stamped on their butts. Skinny ones.

  • http://anniedeezy.tumblr.com/ Annie

    Does anyone else’s wrists/hands hurt when they hold them like that?

  • Jules

    Do little girls actually aspire to look like Barbie? I loved my Barbies when I was little, but I don’t remember ever being disappointed that my body didn’t look like theirs. However, if that IS an issue, I’d be just as worried about little girls wanting to be like obese Barbie as disproportionate anorexic Barbie.

    I’d be totally on board with the “normal looking” Barbie they came out with a while back though. I think it was made to have the proportions of a real girl or something like that.

    • Asia Woodley

      That was a project of a similar discussion. Shame it didn’t make it to production.

  • Truth

    Does “Plus Size Barbie” also come with the accessories she may need down the road? —-medication for high blood pressure, an insulin pump for her Type 2 diabetes, statins for her high cholesterol, and depression medication she will need when she gets bullied and ridiculed at school, and rejected by all the attractive young men she would like to date when she reaches puberty?

    • liberaltraitors

      Nah, it comes with a couch and a TV, and a little button on her back that makes her say, “Yeah, super size that mother.”

  • Katia

    Barbie actually doesn’t have huge boobs anymore. So her body is very similar to a slender woman, though yes the hands feet and waist are quite tiny.
    Really hoping my kids don’t want those nasty brats or monster high! But I remember Barbie as a quick phase.

  • Chuck

    I wonder why men aren’t complaining about six pack Ken? Oh, that’s right, body imagine is a “women” only problem. My fault, disregard the previous statement!

  • nermal

    i do want to put it out there that as a retail worker, i’m finding myself stocking a lot of curvy barbies, much curvier than the barbies of my (1990′s) and my mother’s (70′s) childhoods. they have bigger hips, legs, and thicker waists than the old dolls. make up a story about how she’s fit from eating well and working out, and tah dah, a healthy role model doll, if you really think your kids pay that much attention.

  • RageFace

    Hah the only think that bothers me is that “overweight Barbie’s” double chins seems to be disproportionate to the rest of her. I’m built similarly to her but I sure don’t have a turkey neck like THAT O_O

  • liberaltraitors

    Super-Size Me Barbie.
    Rolls of Yuck Barbie.
    Ima Hogg Barbie.
    Sloppy, Pale and Smelly Barbie.
    Trailer Trash Barbie.
    Can’t Wash My Feet Barbie.
    Laugh Behind My Back Barbie.
    Extra Fries Barbie.
    Sumo Slam Barbie.
    Jabba Barbie.
    Waddle Me Walker Barbie.
    Not Enough Beer To Fix Barbie.
    Friends Make Fun Of Me Barbie.

  • liberaltraitors

    Sorry to add a dose of reality to the world here, but there is nothing sadder than a big, sloppy woman trying to be sexy. This fake Barbie is the perfect example … put on some clothes, gross! And no amount of trowled-on makeup is going to cover up those fat feet you can’t reach to wash, or those shotgun-pattern thighs.
    If you are going to be lazy and large, have some decency about it.

  • jk

    jut a bunch of disgusting hogs that want an equally disgusting analogue being obese like that is just down right unhealthy, triple chins lol, beat. why cant people just understand its a TOY