Real Life Barbies

by Carol Iannone

According to a column by Andrea Peyser in the New York Post, the opening of the Barbie Dreamhouse Experience in Berlin is inspiring feminist protests. Camille Paglia sees Barbie, with her feminine face and hard “Amazonian” body, as a symbol of “girl power.” On the other hand, a student from Hamilton College emphasizes what has often been said, that Barbie’s measurements and proportions are exaggerated and unrealistic. Even without doing the mathematical extrapolations of Barbie’s vital statistics to life size, one can observe that few real-life women naturally have such slim waists and hips, together with such large breasts. There were, are, and always will be some such women, but on the whole, when women are large breasted, they tend to have fuller hips. Jayne Mansfield, Anita Eckberg, Marilyn Monroe — even when she was at her fighting weight in a size eight, she was curvy. And vice versa, women who have slim hips will usually not have large breasts. 

The image of Barbie may have worked a kind of mental transformation, however. When the technology arrived to permit breast implants, the slim-hipped, large-busted female figure, live in flesh and silicone, became more common. The wish is mother to the deed, perhaps.

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