I’m reading Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History (yes, I know, you wish you had my job) and came across this interesting tidbit:
Double-D breasts on skinny women are not all that common in nature. (Barbie’s proportions are naturally found in one out of one hundred thousand women, according to researchers from the University of South Australia; Ken’s bod, by contrasts, is found in one of fifty men.)
So…you’re 2,000x more likely to see a real-life man who looks like Ken than you are to see a real-life woman who looks like Barbie?
Searching online for the University of South Australia study, I came across the story of Galia Slayen, who’s a student at Hamilton College and and a former anorexic. She’s built a life-size Barbie body (scaling up the proportions of the Barbie doll) that she’s taken various places to raise awareness about eating disorders and distorted body image.
from a Huffington Post article by Galia Slayen:
Once a year, at the end of February, Barbie comes out of the closet to meet my friends, strangers, and those apathetic onlookers. During NEDAW, she reminds people that eating disorders and body image issues are serious and prevalent. Holding an awareness week in high school or college is just one way to get students to discuss these important issues. However, constant discussion and education is key to dealing with and overcoming eating disorders.
And in the article, Slayen mentions a toy we can be glad has died out:
Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” with directions inside stating simply “Don’t eat.”
Well, okay. Whatever else might be happening with the slimming of toys and pop-culture images, we can at least be happy that this one is no longer on the market…
But I’m still not thrilled that Ken is 2,000x more realistic than Barbie.