If a real woman were to have Barbie's proportions, she'd have approximately a 39-inch bust, 18-inch waist, and 33-inch hips. Combine that with a size 3 shoe, and you have a pretty unrealistic person.
So when our daughters play with Barbies, are we teaching them that to be pretty, you must have an ample bust, a teeny, itty, bitty waist, and perfectly curvy hips? Oh, and that everyone should be exactly the same size?
If Barbie's formulaic bod makes you cringe, then you'll love what Mattel has up its sleeve: realistic dolls that look more like the various body types we see in average women. Little girls (or boys!) can now choose from a full line of the interestingly named Fashionista Barbies, including Original, Curvy, Petite, and Tall.
What I love is that the various body types come with different skin and hair color choices, so a girl can essentially choose a doll that resembles her. These new Barbies are almost like mini American Girl dolls in that way. Heck, you can even buy a blue-haired curvy Barbie. And a red-headed tall one. In fact, there are six to seven different dolls in each of the new body type categories, with coordinating outfits to match.
Of course, Mattel's move to make its offerings more diverse is likely a reaction to dismal sales in recent years, as modern moms reject the notion of gifting their daughters with platinum-blonde Barbies wearing skimpy bikinis and heels; everyone can probably agree it's about time Mattel revamped Barbie's look.
But as Jezebel points out, the new body types present a host of potential gift-giving quagmires. Just imagine if your daughter received a Curvy Barbie. Would you feel insulted somehow? Meanwhile, as a height-challenged woman, ahem, I wouldn't be offended if my daughter got a Petite doll. Because with a mom like me, they don't have much of a chance of being tall!
Even given the possibility of a new Barbie foot-in-mouth phenomenon coming to a birthday party near you, these new dolls seem to be a step in the right direction for a classic toy attempting to appeal to today's kids.
What's your take?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.