Eat a Sandwich, Barbie

ruby.jpg

I was always a Barbie girl growing up.

While I was constantly bombarded with the same old Feminazi pop psychology complaints about how Barbie initiates negative body images and low self-esteem in the minds of impressionable young girls who couldn’t possibly live up to the unrealistic bodily proportions of the un-

humanely curved hottie mc-hot-hot doll, I ignored the rants and continued to play. I didn’t care that I was a chubby little kid (and then a plump tweener) and that she was more outlandishly shaped than Pamela Anderson. That’s just who Barbie is – a thin, pretty, blonde white-white Wisconsinite.

Still, it might have been nice to have a fat doll.

Six years too late, however, I have finally found them.

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Before there were the Dove Beauties, Marks and Spencers’ “Normals”, and the Ugly Betties, there was Ruby. Granted, she’s not a real doll, but she certainly would make a striking role model for young girls. No need to reiterate her clear purpose (you know, “Love Your Fat Self!”) or make cynical comments about the campaign itself wheedling its message into our body image-conscious brains we should buy the Body Shop’s “make your body feel good” beauty products. I don’t know how much of a “hit” the campaign was, exactly. Apparently, people were just offended by the ads.

I am actually more interested in the doll herself. Is she a computer image, or a prototype? There’s no question that graphics technology has certainly made it easy to screw around images. Case in point:

fat-barbie.jpg

Not a real doll, of course. Just a Photoshop someone with no life did. Think they would make ever Fat Barbie with a double chin anyway? No, the last time they tried to make her more “average”, they gave her slim hips, a flat tummy (complete with bellybutton) and a slightly rounder face. Big changes.

The closest Mattel came, I think, to Chubby Barbie was its version of Rosie O’Donnell a few years ago.

rosie-2.jpg

Complete with bulging tummy!

Other companies have made real “curvaceous” (read: plus-size) dolls. Tonner Dolls, a company that makes very expensive, high-quality, and realistic dolls released the EMME collection last year, based on the likeness of the world’s first plus-size supermodel, Emme Aronson. She’s actually very attractive, if still a little on the thinnish side. But I’m definitely impressed.

emme-2.jpg emme-4.gif

Tonner also makes the Dreamgirls Collection, which is most definitely disappointing considering they barely designed Effie (Jennifer Hudson’s character) to be any heavier than her group mates. (She’s the one in the middle, in case you can’t tell.)

dreamettes.jpg

 

This is about the most realistic it gets when it comes to replicating Hudson’s actually body shape:

effie-3.jpg

Not very, huh?

I’m even less thrilled with Big Beautiful Dolls, or BBDs, but only marginally so. First of all, it sounds almost identical to that empowering phrase you all know I just love, BBW. Secondly… the dolls themselves just are’t very attractive, at least not compared to the Emme doll. Granted, they are plumper than the Emme Doll, which distorts the dolls features to begin with, but they aren’t nearly as detailed or stunning in the face as Emme.

On the other hand, without the comparison on hand, they are still well-made and reasonably cute. The clothes they are wearing could be a little less over the top and “90s fat-esque” (a.k.a. clothes only fat women from the 90s would have worn because they they were under the mistaken impression that the clothes actually looked good on them or made them look more “empowered” and less fat), but overall, I wouldn’t mind trying the dolls out for size, pun very much intended. (Yes, even as a college student I still love to play with Barbies when I get the chance….)

This all said, I really do like that the collection includes African American dolls, the only collection I’ve seen so far that does so. In fact, I believe that the dolls are actually more geared to African American women than any other demographic, seeing as three of the dolls (including the tribute doll to Madame C.J. Walker) are, in fact, black, and only one is white and blonde.

dena.jpg

dawn.jpg

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Lastly, I found the fat doll to top all fat dolls.

fat-ass.jpg

Honestly, I’m not sure if I should be offended or flattered. I mean, yeah, blah blah it’s sexist blah blah, but the doll herself isn’t that terrible. She’s got a pretty face and her body is somewhat in proportion. I’m not going to go out and buy her or anything, but she’s not a terrible representation of a heavy woman. Granted, it’s obviously a joke (maybe even slightly mean-spirited, especially with her name being Fat-Ass and the side captions just this side of snarky) and her expression is a bit goofy/drugged-out, but the designers didn’t make her into a complete hag.

So what to make of all this? Well, the ideas of fat dolls are intriguing and different. The problem is that the ones they’ve got out now are not well-advertised, widely spread, or even within a reasonable price-range. And they’re certainly not geared towards young girls at all!

What I hope for is that a toymaker will someday come out with a chubby (or at least “average”-sized, whatever that means) fashion doll that is actually marketed towards large audience of young girls. How about a commercial or a non-contraversial ad campaign, instead of forcing us to spend hours online combing through random searches to find a plus-size doll, that, in some case, isn’t even remotely full-figured?And can we not price these dolls at over $50, please?

Really, some of these dolls are great. I just wish they were more accessible to those who could really benefit from playing with them, i.e. young girls, not older women trying to fulfill a childhood fantasy or an adult one at that.

~ by Rob Anne on April 25, 2007.

20 Responses to “Eat a Sandwich, Barbie”

  1. Hey, I really like your blog… My blog is similar …… but has to do with Plus size fashion I would really like to be on your blogroll and I would love to add you to mine.

    Truly Curvaceous

  2. …I can’t tell the Dreangirl ones apart. At all. Eek.

    By the way, I found this fake letter thing that I thought was funny, and I thought I should share: http://www.mcsweeneys.net/links/openletters/deepfear.html

    I thought it was funny, though you can do with it as you wish. ^.~

  3. Yeah, I couldn’t tell them apart either. I figure Effie is the…one in the middle? No idea.

    Thanks for the link!

  4. Barbie is no role model.

  5. You posted this some time ago, but I’ve just been introduced to your blog, which I think is absolutely fantastic, and thus can only now give you what information I have on Rubenesque Ruby.

    The Body Shop’s website has an entire detailed personality for her which basically only exsists so that we are aware that Ruby is the most intelligent doll possible. She apparently has a degree in World Beauty.

    Unfortunately, she wasn’t a practically-made doll but computer generated. I think it’s time the body shop re-ran the same ad campaign but with actual dolls for sale. I know I’d buy one!

  6. SOunds like a good idea. kinda pressed for opinion after reading your lil BBW thing on how you hate the word. But we can always agree and agree to disagree cause im not gonna tell someone there opinion is wrong. anyway I agree the “fat barbie” is more real and I wouldnt mind buying ti for my daughter if I ever have one. But Barbie is a fantasy item and its what people want to see, though you hate the term Im used ot saying it I love bbw’s(lowercased it for ya) and in reality there arent many women who are under 140 that I notice anyway. I might book mark this site and would love to here a response from you; email me.

  7. I thought your comment about “someone with no life” was mean. Looked more like someone having a bit of fun, to me.

    • I sure hope that was a self-deprecating remark by the author (maybe she shopped the pic?)…plump that Barbie’s body out, and she would be perfect for my niece, who is perfectly beautiful, but takes after her mom in having a slight double chin…it’s sad how few people recognize the collective damage all the images in the media do to our young girls!

  8. Wow, image what a wonderful world young girls would grow up in if Barbie actually bucked up the courage to come out with some actually fat dolls, I’d have loved to have those as a kid…

  9. wat the fuck is going on with boys and the barbie figer

  10. wat is the hell is going on

  11. i think voluptuous is far more beautiful than anything skinny.

    eve parker (plus size barbie)

  12. Like your page a lot. Wish more people visited and left comments.

  13. What is wrong with you? Barbie was created to help young girls with the transition of physical changes accompanied with the onset of puberty. Check out ‘Barbie Nation’ sometime when you can take time away from your ridiculous rants on Barbie and how bad she is for the world. Children that are at the age where they are playing with Barbies shouldn’t even be thinking about body image. Maybe if our society didn’t make it into such a big deal, children would stop making it into such a big deal. And rather than criticizing a toy, maybe you should start by criticizing all of the models and celebrities out there that are actually the ones having an impact on body image. I have never heard of a child looking up to Barbie, but I know that every child out there looks up to somebody famous. So before you keep rambling on again, maybe you should know what you’re talking about first.

  14. lol barbie

  15. do you know a web site that i can buy a fat black barbie ?

  16. Regarding the dolls which are still on the “thinnish” side – isn’t this pretty much the middle ground people should wish doll-makers to tread? While I don’t really buy into the feminazi hype about Barbie and her unrealistic proportions, I can understand wanting someone to make a doll which better represents “real” women. But really, SHOULD there be a doll which represents truly FAT women? I don’t think so. Fat acceptance should go only so far… as in, don’t make fun of fat people, don’t discriminate against fat people in employment, etc.. But should we really have dolls which make obesity seem normal, and okay? The fact of the matter, political correctness aside, is that a significant amount of fat on one’s body is not healthy. Yes, you can be “skinny fat” – skinny but still unhealthy – and you can be somewhat overweight and still quite fit (though, quite frankly, that is a rarity among fat people. But overall, fat = unhealthy. Have we really gotten to a point where we want to so desensitive people to what obesity truly is that they just consider it “normal” and don’t strive to attain a fitter figure? I like the idea of a doll which shows realistic proportions. (And I’m not railing against Barbie for being “too thin” but rather for having proportions which would make a real person look like a freak.) Realistic proportions do not need to be obese proportions. They can and should be THIN, just not unhealthily so.

  17. Sorry, some typos in my previous post. But I just want to add this – if “supermodel” prorportions in dolls (or in actual women in magazines) are “unhealthy” to show young girls, aren’t obese proportions just as unhealthy to show girls? Do people truly believe that just because Americans are eating way too much and exercising way too little (and yes, that is what it comes down to in the VAST majority of cases… and in the other cases, it comes down to health problems) that means obesity is “normal” and “healthy”? That is really screwed-up thinking. It’s like if everyone in the country got really lazy and stopped going to school and suddenly only 1/3 of the people in the country knew how to read. Would that suddenly make illiteracy the normal thing, something to strive for? Would we not want to show our children anything better? We shouldn’t be making dolls which look like unhealthy people they can see in the street. If actual examples of a healthy, fit body become fewer and farther between, at least children can have dolls which show they the kind of body they should strive to have (through healthy eating and exercise.)

    In response to an above poster – MOST women I know weight under 140, without being crazy-obsessed about weight and working out. It is sad that you do not see any thin women on the street where you live. 140 isn’t exactly “skinny” – especially for an average-height woman. I weigh about 140 right now and am 5’8″ – above-average height – and while I am slender enough, I’m far from skinny.

  18. Just got this link to your blog.

    For fuller figures, try the Get Set or G-Five dolls by Jenny Baker circa 1999-2001 or the current YNU Group Mixis fashion dolls.The Get Set dolls appear on eBay from time to time. They weren’t produced for very long, so . The Mixis dolls are still available at http://www.mixis.com and other online doll/toy stores. The dolls aren’t “fat” per se, but they are solid.

    Also, some Japanese and/or Chinese action figure might meet your standards: I wrote a blog post about some “larger” figures that might interest you. Please see here, http://phillycollector.blogspot.com/2009/10/body-comparison-of-larger-playscale.html

    Thanks for looking. Good luck with your quest AND please do write if you do decide to create a larger-sized dol.

    D7ana

  19. liz, fuck off. fats are “normal”. no bizarre monsters, no “dead man walking”. i’m tired of fat shame, fat blame, healthy-guards all over.

    furthermore, none of these dolls are morbidly obese, just fat. the ruby one is gorgeous, just average. the “sexdoll” is pretty much like me, my body is just like hers and I’m healthy. finally, i guess the dena-dawn-diva dolls without these ugly clothes seem our fat-ass plastic friend.

    there should be fat dolls, there should be also skinny dolls (with normal proportions, no huge lifted boobs, tiny waist, extremely long legs and no hips). how about the short ones, and those with really curly hair and tanned skin. we are not normalizing fatties, just portraying society with all the diversity it has.

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