Lead Barbie Designer Defends Unrealistic Measurements
The lead Barbie designer for Mattel defends the unrealistic measurements for the doll in a recent interview with FastCoDesign.com. The toy’s unrealistic proportions are always a good talking point when the subject of body image arises. In her first public interview, the lead designer of the Barbie team speaks out as to why Barbie doesn’t always measure up for everyone.
In the last decade, Barbie has become more of a controversial icon in discussions on her influence on the self-image of little girls. In 2006, the American Psychological Association published a study by the University of Sussex on how little girls from 5 to 8 would react when interacting with Barbie dolls or the Emme doll based of the well known plus-figure model. The study concluded that after a short time, young girls did not like their own bodies after playing with Barbie as opposed to the more realistic Emme doll.
The topic became relevant in 2012 when an internet craze started after girls like Dakota Rose, Valeria Lukyanova and Venus Palermo took to makeup, Photoshop and even plastic surgery to alter their appearance in order to appear like living dolls. Dakota Rose, known online as Kota Koti gives makeup tips and tutorials on her YouTube channel. Valeria Lukyanova has also appeared in V Magazine photo spreads showcasing her doll like assets which she maintains on a liquid vegetarian diet as The Inquisitr has reported on previously.
While Barbie herslef has had some minor adjustments over the years, the design has not strayed far from Barbie’s original introduction in March of 1959 at the New York Toy Fair. “Barbie’s body was never designed to be realistic.” stated Ms. Culmone in the beginning of the interview. The theory behind her figure was that it would be easy to dress and undress as Barbie would have thousands of outfits by the end of the century.
When questioned if the unrealistic proportions of Barbie had to be used for the clean fashion lines, Ms. Culmone replied, “You do! Because if you’re going to take a fabric that’s made for us, and turn a seam for a cuff or on the body, her body has to be able to accommodate how the clothes will fit her.
Trading and selling clothes for Barbie dolls is a common practice within families and friends. A cursory glance at eBay will also reveal a healthy market for the right outfit for the 11.5 inch plastic figurine.
When questioned on the issue of little girls and their body image Ms. Culmone doesn’t think it is as big an issue as adults make it out to be.
Girls view the world completely differently than grown-ups do. They don’t come at it with the same angles and baggage and all that stuff that we do.
Regardless of Barbie’s alleged role in self-image problems with little girls across the world, Mattel has seen a decline year over year on the sales of the Barbie doll. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Mattel disclosed that the global sales of the popular toy was down 13 percent for the holiday season. This may lead to changes in the product line regardless if the lead Barbie designer defends the measurement consistency.