'CURVY BARBIE' HELPING PERPETUATE THE MYTH OF THE IMPOSSIBLY THIN - SO NO REAL PROGRESS
Posted on 24 May 2016
How does 'Curvy Barbie' compare with an average woman?
Not very well. She is far slimmer than the Aust/UK average 16-24 year old who is a now a size 14 or USA 12...
Now toymakers Mattel have released three new body shapes. Original Barbie is being joined by Curvy Barbie, Tall Barbie and Petite Barbie. The latest Fashionistas line also features a wide range of skin tones reflecting many different ethnicities.
With children's body image firmly on the agenda, the new dolls' arrival has been met by a broadly positive response. But how reflective are these dolls of young women in Britain and America?
If Barbie were a real woman...
Like the first ever Barbie, Curvy Barbie is 11in (27.9cm) tall. Multiply by six and you find Barbie would be 5ft 6in. That's taller than the average UK woman at 5ft 3in and average Australian woman at 5ft 3in and slightly more than the average US woman at just under 5ft 4in.
So what dress size would scaled-up Curvy Barbie be?
The 1:6 calculations reveal that Curvy Barbie would have a UK / Australia size 6/8 waist (63cm or 24.8in) and size 8 hips (91.2cm or 35.9in). Her waist-to-height ratio, which is considered by many a more accurate health measurement than Body Mass Index (BMI), is 0.38 - slim indeed.
She is far slimmer than the average 16-24-year-old woman in the UK and Australia. The average British woman of this age is 164.5cm (5ft 5in) and has a waist measuring 79.5cm (31.3in), according to the 2012 Health Survey of England. Those figures on the M&S scale would equate to a dress size 14. A similar study in 2012 Health Survey of Australia found that the average of age 18-24 is 163.8cm (5ft 4in) and has a waist measuring 80.4cm (31.6in),
But Curvy Barbie has been praised by commentators as a marked improvement. By the same scaling, if original Barbie were a real woman she would have a size 2 waist (54cm) and size 2 hips (78cm). It's possible to imagine her having difficulty standing upright.
But while Curvy Barbie is closer to reality, Tall and Petite Barbie do not fare so well when scaled up to real size. Tall Barbie would be 5ft 11in (180cm) tall, with a size 4 waist (56.4cm) and size 2 hips (78cm). Petite Barbie would be 4ft 11in (158.7cm) tall with a size 2 waist (52.8cm) and size 0 hips (72cm).
However, were Mattel required to accurately reflect the average British and American woman across all ages, the dolls would be Plus-size.
The average British woman, at 5ft 3in (161.9cm) with a waist of 87.6cm (34.5in) , Australian woman, 5ft 3in (161.8cm}, with a waist of 87.7cm (34.5inwhilst the average American woman, is 5ft 4in (162.1cm) with a waist of 95.3cm (37.5in) – all Plus-size by industry standards.