Ok, so her measurements aren't 38-18-33 any more, but they were for over thirty years. And like the 38-23-33 doll that came after her resizing last year, done to make her more "realistic," is actually that much better. Mattel's Barbie division director Jean McKenzie stated, "What little girls want isn't just one thing, one ideal. What they want is a choice of different Barbies with different looks -- to reflect how different they look." Yeah, I'm sure Mattel really believes that. That's why there is no short Barbie, nor an overweight one, nor a maternity Barbie, nor any other variation in size or shape. That really reflects the differences of girls everywhere. And don't think that kids would realize the distortion. Girls grow up with that Barbie image drilled into their heads. Anything that someone is told enough times will become the "truth" to them, be it that 11+1 is twelve (not necessarily true, in base 2 it's 100, which is actually 4), or that "Jesus loves them," or that everyone is supposed to look like Barbie when they grow up or else there's something wrong. Children are logical. Why would they not connect Barbie's dream car, dream house, and dream guy with the way she looks. They don't know too much else about her. It's no wonder that when Esquire magazine polled 1,000 women in 1994, more than half said they'd rather get run over by a truck than gain 150 pounds.
I'm not saying that that is only because Barbie looks the way she does. Our entire society generates this insane ideal. In another study, when a group of college students were asked what type of person they'd be least inclined to wed, they said they'd sooner tie the knot with an embezzler, cocaine or marijuana user, ex-mental patient, shoplifter, nymphomaniac, communist, blind person, or atheist than a fat person. Personally, I wouldn't balk at anyone on that list except the embezzler, shoplifter or cocaine addict, but that's not the point. The point is that our society is just plain fucked up. And it goes far beyond just Barbie dolls. There's the movie and television industry where 90% of the people are "just the right size," the models plastered all over magazines and commercials who are built like they skipped puberty completely (e.g.. no breasts, no hips, and straight up and down), and the fact that most of the clothes that "everyone" is wearing and that are the "in" style at the moment never come in any size above about an 13-14. Even portions of the heath community contribute to the idea that everyone should be thin, thin, thin. Every "weight chart" I've seen says that a girl who is approximately 5' 4", even if she's big boned should weigh approximately 130lb. By these, I'm 25-30 pounds overweight. A male friend of mine is entering the military. He's the same height as I am and weighs the same, yet he's considered slightly underweight. It's no wonder a 1997 Psychology Today survey found that 62 percent of girls from the ages of 13 to 19 are already unhappy with their weight.
Some, who are against the criticism which Barbie has inspired, comment that such scrutiny is almost never directed at toys or images for boys, though they are no more realistic. They say that "real girls don't look like Barbie, but real boys don't have the strength of Superman and they can't play basketball like Michael Jordan either." There is a difference though. Superman is not a man, he's a superhero, and besides that small fact, as any 10 year-old can tell you, he's not even supposed to be from earth. Society doesn't expect boys to be able to actually emulate him. Most of the time, the first time a kid jumps off the roof trying to fly, he figures it out, either through the pain of a bad landing or the response he gets form his parents. As for playing hoops like Jordan, emulating a sports hero can be a good thing. Practicing to get better and better at basketball is acceptable, starving oneself to get to that elusive "perfect size" is not, or rather it shouldn't be. It seems to be just fine in our society lately, especially in some women's sports. "Rates of eating disorders are higher among girls who participate in ballet, gymnastics, and ice-skating. Appearance counts in those arenas, and competition is so fierce that one bulge can shave points off an athlete's score. Those sports also tend to attract highly perfectionist, controlling young women who are driven to excel--the very type most likely to try to starve her way to a "perfect" size. Desperate to please coaches and high-pressure parents, they will do anything to be thin....The pressures on gymnasts, in particular, are only increasing. In 1976 the average female gymnast was 5' 3" and 105 pounds. In 1992, she was 4' 9" and only 88 pounds." (Laura Fraser, Losing It: America's Obsession with Weight and the Industry That Feeds on It) Jordan inspires guys to be athletic and to love to play a game. Barbie inspires girls to become anorexic and believe that unless they are the perfect size they're worthless. Yeah, that's fair.