When a Picture Truly Is Worth a Thousand Words

 

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports on a Hamilton College sophomore who created a life-size Barbie to illustrate how unrealistic body images feed (no pun intended) eating disorders in young women. The student took a Barbie doll, added lessons she learned from her geometry class, and built a proportional model she calls Get Real Barbie. Here’s the photo:

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There are 47 comments.

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  1. Bill McGurn Contributor
    Bill McGurn Post author

    Here’s the Mother Jones piece. Interesting. I think the girl in question took the most extreme measurements in every direction (e.g., 18″ waist, 40″ bust, height 7′). This also says that Barbie was sized down a few years ago.

    I have three daughters. Only one I believe had a Barbie, and even she wasn’t that into it.

    • #1
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:01 AM PDT
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  2. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher

    I find it hard to believe that girls or boys are pushed over the edge into an eating disorder because their dolls are unrealistically proportioned. I just do not think we can boil down things to just barbie. Eating disorders are complex, with more going on than just cultural stereotypes.

    I might point out that when you scale things up or down, proportions can change so they still look “right”.

    • #2
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:02 AM PDT
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  3. Aaron Miller Member

    Voodoo dolls fit more common proportions. They are clearly the preferred gifts of responsible parents.

    I’m sure body confidence couldn’t have anything to do with TV and Hollywood… another industry dominated by puritanical right-wingers.

    • #3
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:07 AM PDT
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  4. EJHill Podcaster

    If a picture is worth a thousand words then these students deserve the word FAIL a thousand times over.

    Here’s your “real” comparison and it looks nothing like the pic Bill posted.

    • #4
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:11 AM PDT
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  5. Aaron Miller Member

    I’ve been told that the skin-and-bones fashion for women began with an actress named Twiggy.

    • #5
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:24 AM PDT
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  6. FeliciaB Inactive

    Barbie has utterly ruined my self image. I’ve been trying for years but can never seem to master the backward bending knees. I think I’ll go starve myself some more. I just need to get that last 10 off before the knees will finally bend backwards.

    Actually, Barbie taught me sewing because we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to buy fashionable Barbie clothing. I had to make it. But now I really hate sewing…

    • #6
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:24 AM PDT
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  7. StickerShock Inactive

    EJ — that comparison isn’t correct, either, but it is much more so than the dopey geometry project doll. The real girl has heavier legs. The Barbie doll has eyes that are bigger than a cow.

    If anything, Barbie was marketed in so many variations — skin color, careers, sports, hobbies, historical figures (yes, Betsy Ross was quite busty apparently) and literary figures, international costumes — you could argue that girls who played with her had unlimited possibilities laid out before them.

    • #7
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:29 AM PDT
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  8. flownover Inactive

    Get a life, worrying about a Barbie is indicative of the quality of education at Hamilton . Why don’t they try this with Raggedy Ann to expose the lack of fashion sense in earlier dolls, therefore society’s oppression of style. Down with calico !!

    That they were empowered by some prof to do this incredibly irrelevant thing in an attempt to reignite some feminist fervor is so telling.

    And worse, we have the Obama’s telling us not be bullys anymore. This social engineering crap is best left to the Nazis and Fascisti so they can take the argument to it’s logical end and be overwhelmingly vanquished by the rest of sensible civilization.

    Kids are idiots too.

    Besides, isn’t the whole bullying thing a gay hate crime stalking horse ?

    • #8
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:37 AM PDT
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  9. wilber forge Member

    There was grade given for this ??? How sad.

    Just cannot resist this… This student will never design inflatable adult dolls.. Creepy…

    • #9
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:47 AM PDT
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  10. EJHill Podcaster
    StickerShock: EJ — that comparison isn’t correct, either,

    Didn’t say it was correct, just closer to reality than the project that inspired the original post. That said, does Dora the Explorer tell little Latinas that their heads should be shaped like a football? And I had a beagle when I was a child and don’t remember him fighting imaginary dog fights with the Red Baron, either. It’s just lunacy.

    • #10
    • March 10, 2011, at 1:53 AM PDT
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  11. Lo Fon Inactive
    Bill McGurn:

    I have three daughters. Only one I believe had a Barbie, and even she wasn’t that into it. · Mar 9 at 12:01pm

    Didn’t you get the complementary going home Barbie from the White Swan in Guangzhou? We have two such Barbie dolls. I think those are the only Barbies we have. I thought it was a nice gesture by the White Swan. For that reason, I’ll always have a soft spot for Barbie.

    My wife and I don’t make a big deal about looks. Nevertheless, I notice how my girls even at their age – 7 and 4 – make a big deal about their weight. They are both thin. I don’t know where they picked up that thinking. I grew up with two brothers and no sisters. When it came to food, the only thing we worried about was getting a finger accidentally gnawed during the dinner feeding frenzy.

    • #11
    • March 10, 2011, at 2:07 AM PDT
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  12. The (apathetic) King Prawn Member

    The only thing I thought about when I saw that picture was the shrunken head guy from the movie Beetlejuice.

    • #12
    • March 10, 2011, at 2:14 AM PDT
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  13. AmishDude Member
    Kennedy Smith: Ahem. While it is the bedrock of my foreign policy to avoid calling bull-puckey on sorority girls, that is total horse neers. Come on, moms, that does not remotely resemble a Barbie doll. Barbie’s far better looking. The head? The arms? The bustier?

    If they wanted to make a “Get Real Barbie” make it at least look like the doll. I call Shenanigans on the whole enterprise. · Mar 9 at 11:16am

    I’m guessing she wasn’t paying much attention in her geometry class.

    There’s a solution to this whole body image thing. It’s a Geico commercial that includes the word “jackwagon”.

    • #13
    • March 10, 2011, at 2:23 AM PDT
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  14. StickerShock Inactive

    “Down with calico !!” Ha ha!!

    I will make this my new anti-PC battle cry.

    My daughter loved Raggedy Ann, too. How did she ever develop a normal body image with both Raggedy and Barbie imposing their deepy distorted and insidious message on her impressionable young mind?

    • #14
    • March 10, 2011, at 2:40 AM PDT
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  15. Cal Lawton Member

    I have to agree with everyone on this. Though I don’t see the Add to Cart button.

    • #15
    • March 10, 2011, at 2:53 AM PDT
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  16. Bill McGurn Contributor
    Bill McGurn Post author

    flownover, my wife is a redhead. I’ll have to ask her how Raggedy Ann affected her self-image. Come to think of it, I should also ask my sister Annie what “Raggedy” did for her self image.

    • #16
    • March 10, 2011, at 3:04 AM PDT
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  17. tabula rasa Member
    Aaron Miller: I’ve been told that the skin-and-bones fashion for women began with an actress named Twiggy. · Mar 9 at 12:24pm

    Twiggy was certainly one of the first “skin-and-bones” models. I think she was a model first, then leveraged that into an undistinguished movie career.

    • #17
    • March 10, 2011, at 3:12 AM PDT
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  18. MLH Inactive
    MLH
    Kennedy Smith: On a more serious note, our geometry skills are falling way behind China. I blame it on the lamentable Larry Summersesque trend of girls to major in Fashion Merchandising, Exercise Physiology and (shudder) Psychology. May as well just go for the MRS degree and have done with it.

    There’s a lot of math, and other sciences, in ex phys.

    • #18
    • March 10, 2011, at 3:23 AM PDT
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  19. Kennedy Smith Inactive
    MLH
    Kennedy Smith: On a more serious note, our geometry skills are falling way behind China. I blame it on the lamentable Larry Summersesque trend of girls to major in Fashion Merchandising, Exercise Physiology and (shudder) Psychology. May as well just go for the MRS degree and have done with it.

    There’s a lot of math, and other sciences, in ex phys. · Mar 9 at 2:23pm

    Apparently. My next door neighbor, an absurdly hot Physiology major (who knew that was a good career path?) has a stack of papers outside her door. She’s not dead, because she often leaves garbage bags out on the mat too. I’m like “Good Lord, another garbage bag? What a slob! Am I supposed to take this to the dumpster?”

    And eventually do, of course. She didn’t need a double major in Psychology to figure that math.

    • #19
    • March 10, 2011, at 3:31 AM PDT
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  20. Andrew Klavan Contributor

    Hey, Bill, you forgot to say where we could buy one of these life-sized Barbies. I’m, you know, just, like… asking…

    • #20
    • March 10, 2011, at 3:48 AM PDT
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  21. Kennedy Smith Inactive
    Andrew Klavan: Hey, Bill, you forgot to say where we could buy one of these life-sized Barbies. I’m, you know, just, like… asking… · Mar 9 at 2:48pm

    In Montecito, surely.

    • #21
    • March 10, 2011, at 4:36 AM PDT
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  22. Jerry the Bastage Inactive
    FeliciaB: Barbie has utterly ruined my self image. I’ve been trying for years but can never seem to master the backward bending knees. I think I’ll go starve myself some more. I just need to get that last 10 off before the knees will finally bend backwards.

    Actually, Barbie taught me sewing because we didn’t have a lot of opportunities to buy fashionable Barbie clothing. I had to make it. But now I really hate sewing… · Mar 9 at 12:24pm

    I have to ask, wouldn’t the effects of your Barbie doll be countered by your Raggedy-Anne doll?

    Why don’t we get complaints about the smug, superior self images from girls that never had a Barbie, but did have a rag doll?

    • #22
    • March 10, 2011, at 4:45 AM PDT
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  23. Mark Wilson Member
    StickerShock: EJ — that comparison isn’t correct, either, but it is much more so than the dopey geometry project doll. The real girl has heavier legs. The Barbie doll has eyes that are bigger than a cow.

    How could it not be correct? Everyone but EJ is making this way too hard.

    To compare the proportions, take a picture of an actual doll, and scale it to the same size as a picture of an actual girl. That’s exactly what EJ did.

    • #23
    • March 10, 2011, at 5:38 AM PDT
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  24. flownover Inactive
    Kennedy Smith
    Andrew Klavan: Hey, Bill, you forgot to say where we could buy one of these life-sized Barbies. I’m, you know, just, like… asking… · Mar 9 at 2:48pm
    In Montecito, surely. · Mar 9 at 3:36pm

    Nope

    Hope Ranch, anddon’tcallmeshirley

    there’s always hope

    • #24
    • March 10, 2011, at 6:20 AM PDT
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  25. Ross C Member

    I also think the “life size” doll looks unlike a real barbie. Peanut head and all.

    But…I feel inspired. My daughter has 3 barbies. This weekend I will take some dental floss or string and take the measurments.

    I’ll try a couple of heights to scale to. Results to follow.

    • #25
    • March 10, 2011, at 8:01 AM PDT
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  26. Jerry the Bastage Inactive
    Ross Conatser: I also think the “life size” doll looks unlike a real barbie. Peanut head and all.

    But…I feel inspired. My daughter has 3 barbies. This weekend I will take some dental floss or string and take the measurments.

    I’ll try a couple of heights to scale to. Results to follow. · Mar 9 at 7:01pm

    Measure carefully. A very small error in measuring the doll could end up in a couple of cup… er, hat sizes.

    • #26
    • March 10, 2011, at 8:18 AM PDT
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  27. barbara lydick Coolidge

    From Red Skelton

    Agent to prospective client: I ‘ve got a great act for you. And her measurements are 66″ 22″ 32″.

    Well, what can she do?

    With a little help, she can sit up.

    • #27
    • March 10, 2011, at 8:26 AM PDT
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  28. Kennedy Smith Inactive

    Ahem. While it is the bedrock of my foreign policy to avoid calling bull-puckey on sorority girls, that is total horse neers. Come on, moms, that does not remotely resemble a Barbie doll. Barbie’s far better looking. The head? The arms? The bustier?

    If they wanted to make a “Get Real Barbie” make it at least look like the doll. I call Shenanigans on the whole enterprise.

    • #28
    • March 10, 2011, at 12:16 PM PDT
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  29. tabula rasa Member

    Are you sure that isn’t the famous “Morganna, the Kissing Bandit” in the middle?

    Our culture took a major hit when she quit running out onto the field to kiss baseball players. Guess she decided to go back to school.

    • #29
    • March 10, 2011, at 12:19 PM PDT
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  30. Tommy De Seno Contributor

    Is it the girl in the middle?

    I like the girl in the middle.

    • #30
    • March 10, 2011, at 12:20 PM PDT
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