Eat a Sandwich, Barbie
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.)
This is about the most realistic it gets when it comes to replicating Hudson’s actually body shape:
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.
Lastly, I found the fat doll to top all fat dolls.
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.