There has always been a Barbie backlash; mothers who refused to buy her, women who actively bashed her. Journalist-turned-novelist Anna Quindlen fantasized about driving a “silver lamé stake” through Barbie’s plastic heart; Pulitzer-prize winning novelist Carol Shields said Barbie’s expression, with “its dumb shine of self-absorption, its trippingly tartish look of one who is out for all she can get,” is “eerily disturbing.”
Barbie has been held responsible for eating disorders and charged with offering girls a wholly unrealistic body image. A typical Barbie doll is 11.5 inches, which, at a 1/6 scale, would make her 5 feet 9 inches tall. Her vital statistics have been estimated at 36 inches (bust), 18 inches (waist) and 33 inches (hips). According to a study by the University Central Hospital in Helsinki, Finland, she would lack the 17 to 22 percent body fat required for a woman to menstruate. Slumber Party Barbie, who made her debut in 1965, came with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” — one of its more succinct but pertinent tips was “Don’t Eat.”
Mattel has said that Barbie’s waist was originally made so tiny because the waistbands of clothes that she wore, with their seams, snaps, and zippers, added bulk to her figure.
In 1998, Mattel introduced Really Rad Barbie, a doll whose waist was wider and bust smaller, thus reflecting a more “real” female body type.