Mattel Releases Line Of (Frightfully Thin) Heroine Barbie Dolls

By Heidi Stevens
Chicago Tribune

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Thank you Heidi Stevens for pointing out that while the new collection of “heroine barbies” is a great idea, these real women in history deserve more realistic body types.

Chicago Tribune

Mattel just released the collection of heroine Barbie dolls, Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart, and Katherine Johnson, and they couldn’t house a vital organ among them.

Seriously, Mattel. I love the idea, paying tribute to heroines of art, aviation and mathematics in honor of International Women’s Day (March 8). I just wish they weren’t skeletal.
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Remember those charts a few years back that showed how Barbie’s proportions would translate if she were a real woman? She’d have a 16-inch waist, according to one chart, which would be 4 inches thinner than her head and leave room for only half a liver. Her wrists would be 3.5 inches around, her ankles would be 6 inches around, and she’d likely have to walk on all fours.

Which seem like some major impediments to the feats accomplished by Earhart, the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, Kahlo, a legendary artist, and Johnson, a mathematician hired by NASA to calculate the trajectory of the first American-manned flight into space.

“Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie,” Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and general manager for the Barbie brand, said in a press release. “And we are thrilled to shine a light on real life role models to remind them that they can be anything.”

I share her thrill … but with an asterisk.

Creating the Inspiring Women dolls ($29.99 each) with more realistic proportions would have meant other Barbie clothing and accessories wouldn’t fit them, which may have struck designers as limiting.

But it would have been symbolic and powerful to use this new series as a line in the sand, a moment to say, “Real women in history deserve realistic body types. Here you go.”

In the product announcement, Mattel gushed: “All three of these courageous women took risks, changed rules and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before!”

So why shrink them?

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