Rarely has a toy been the subject of such adulation andabhorrence — from adults, no less! Collectors fawn over the doll, but Barbie has long been criticized for her unrealistic proportions, prompting fears that girls would develop body image issues or anorexia while trying to emulate her. (To scale, she would be 5-feet, 9-inches tall with a 36-inch bust, 18-inch waist and 33-inch hips.) Grown women with Barbie’s measurements, in fact, would lack the body fat percentage required to menstruate, and many a feminist has refused her daughter a Barbie doll.
Of course, the problems with her proportions are compounded by the fact that Barbie was, for most of her long history, blonde, white and rich, and some versions of her repeated phrases like, “Will we ever have enough clothes?” and “I love shopping!” Though certain strides have been made (multicultural Barbies, curvy Barbies, etc.), the very word “Barbie” is fraught with an appearance-oriented, anti-feminist slant.