Barbie Executive Says Doll’s Body Is All About The Clothes

February 5, 2014  |  

With all of the messages being thrown at our children daily–from health reports at school, to Photoshopped magazine covers to raunchy videos–it’s no surprise that body image is a delicate subject for some children. It’s tricky to balance the development of their self-esteem with the factors in our culture that may make our young ones feel inadequate based on messages of what the “perfect” body looks like–but as parents it’s so important to be mindful of these issues. We’ve seen firsthand the negative effects that the pressure to fit an ideal image can have, causing young girls (and boys) to succumb to extreme tactics in an attempt to transform themselves into what society defines as beautiful. We also cannot ignore the key role the toys that children play with has on these beliefs; the song said it best, “I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie world”.

So it kind of threw me for a loop when I heard that Kim Culmone, vice president of design for Barbie maker Mattel, said in a recent interview that the doll’s unattainable proportions are all for the clothes…period. “Barbie’s body was never designed to be realistic. She was designed for girls to easily dress and undress,” Culmone told Fast Company’s Co.Design. She explained that Barbie’s bizarre proportions are necessary for designers to create outfits for the doll; her body is designed to help the particular outfits she is sold with fit better. *blank stare*

Since 1959, girls have fantasized about Barbie and her “lifestyle” and lately the dolls have been all about her careers – a computer engineer decked out in binary code on her shirt, a presidential candidate, surgeon, news anchorwoman, astronaut, firefighter, dentist and a myriad of other professions usually consisting of men. To a young girl, it can inspire them to be anything they want; it provides a sense that a girl can do anything she dream about. While her professional repertoire has continued to expand and reinforce modern accuracy, her measurements have not. A life-sized Barbie would weigh only 110 pounds, stand at a height of 5 feet 9 inches and have a body mass index of less than 17; a woman in real life with these specifics would likely be diagnosed with anorexia, have thin brittle hair and be unable to menstruate.

This sounds oddly familiar…the fashion world claims thin models are needed to fit the clothing correctly. Playtime no longer sounds like playtime, life is imitating recess and vice versa. Expecting children to be able to differentiate between reality and fantasy with dolls that closely resemble humans seems absurd, especially when these principles are reinforced daily in the media; both on and offline.

Some claim that it’s all harmless and “just a doll” while others believe that the unattainable “Barbie” figure breeds self-loathing in little girls.

What do you think, are we teaching children that it is desirable to be very thin and strive for an unrealistic body?

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  • HeadHunter

    Please will the real Nicki M. please stand up. This chick look supra plastic….. oh yeah she one of the fake tricks.. lol

  • Suburban Princess Dior

    Um no yesterday they had a picture of a gorgeous black doll not N. MINAJ BECAUSE her dol is ugly the doll yesterday was gorgeous they switched the picture

  • Mel Parker-Reeves
  • Pretty

    Thank you! I was thinking the same thing.

  • Mel Parker-Reeves

    Wow first let me say how low the author of this article is to steal the artist picture without her concent, crop out her name, or discribe the context of the work…yes this picture is a ballerina, the actual picture portrays a series of black dolls dancing inspired by the NY Ballerina dance troop….but because the author chose to misrepresent the picture without permission all anyone who reads this article can see is the lewdness of the picture, instead of the beauty the acutal picture inspires.

  • Mocha

    ….and somewhere Uncle Luke is saying, “Don’t stop, get it, get it!” lol….
    They could have chosen another ballerina pose. #shameful

  • Bombshell

    You know if her body were more life like this pose would look more ballerina like and less scandalous! Torso needs to be longer or something!

  • Jadoremoi143

    The doll is a ballerina.

  • akwgreenzbk

    Okay it can be about the clothes, but why she got to be BUSTING IT OPEN like that!?!?smdh. Can anyone hear “drop it like it’s hot” in the background because I sure can!


    I see it, but they could have put her in a better pose than that.

  • Lina Sewji

    This pose is supposed to look like a ballerina pose but in reality that pose is unflattering to real live people as well. The fact that they would do this shows how careless everyone is becoming with children. This doll look like she’s about to give birth or worse. Ugh. So tasteless.

  • BlackFrench

    I understand now, I don’t really know anything about ballerina poses.

  • Suburban Princess Dior

    She’s a ballerina

  • BlackFrench

    I can’t stop laughing at the pose of the barbie in the picture, why would you do that?

  • Suburban Princess Dior

    Our if curiosity how they give Barbie a height weight and body index of 17

  • Suburban Princess Dior

    That doll is Gorgeous flawless ♥♡♥♥she looks like me


    Someone please tell me why they have that BLACK Barbie doll put in that position with its legs cocked and/or spread open like that? WOW!!!!! You know young girls, no better yet GROWN WOMAN love to look like their favorite or any Barbie doll.