Barbie’s a Computer Engineer.

In 1996, a photographer at Discover Magazine (where I work) asked me to be the subject of a “before and after” image. “Depends,” I replied. “Am I the ‘before’ or ‘after’?”   “Both,” he said. “We want to take an average woman and stretch her likeness into Barbie’s proportions to see what she’d look like.”

I’m the average woman in this picture. Here’s the text that accompanied the photo in the magazine: “To match the proportions of a Barbie doll, an attractive woman with a normal shape (left) would have to transform her height, waist, and bust to appear like the figure on the right.”
The point was to demonstrate why it’s down-right silly for girls and women to aspire towards unrealistic body proportions, such as Barbie’s. (And/or to humiliate me in a stunningly public way as my first thought when I saw the picture was “Burn the skirt and no more witch shoes!”)

Well, who never ages, has taken up a new career based on consumers’ votes: Computer Engineer! Check this out.

  • What an interesting and open minded look at Barbie. She is so strangely distorted shape-wise and that is still very distressing. So focusing on other aspects that show good, well balanced health is a pleasant surprise. Bright shiny teeth, hair, skin all translate to fitness. So does her highly symmetrical proportions. All elements vital in mate selection and success in passing along your genes — something the ad agencies call sex appeal.

  • What an interesting and open minded look at Barbie. She is so strangely distorted shape-wise and that is still very distressing. So focusing on other aspects that show good, well balanced health is a pleasant surprise. Bright shiny teeth, hair, skin all translate to fitness. So does her highly symmetrical proportions. All elements vital in mate selection and success in passing along your genes — something the ad agencies call sex appeal.

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  • Jonathan Richardson

    I cast and mold females breast or torsos. This way you can remember and see how you looked like, when you were young. You can contact me @ 267-718-0065 ask for Jonathan.

  • Jonathan Richardson

    I cast and mold females breast or torsos. This way you can remember and see how you looked like, when you were young. You can contact me @ 267-718-0065 ask for Jonathan.

  • Obvious Obliquity

    Is this commentary sexist? Feminist are good at drawing attention to the problems faced by women, but the fail at their stated purpose of bringing gender neutrality.

    Boys and men also face pressures to live up to stereotypes. Our stereotypes are characters who put their lives in jeopardy to benefit others (G.I. Joe) wantonly slaughter people who don’t meet their standards (Rambo) and always want sex.

    Oddly enough, a news story just came on the radio. A man in my state wants to ban Barbie dolls because he is, “tired of the idea that if you are beautiful you don’t have to be smart.”

    Well, if this leads to requiring women to register for the draft and serve in combat, I’m all for it! If this leads harsh punishment for employers whose male employees take less paternity leave than the females, then I’m even more for it! Now, I will REALLY get behind the Barbie ban if child custody decisions are made without bias favoring mothers.

    I want to see commentary similar to this, but drawing attention to the problems MEN face!

  • Obvious Obliquity

    Is this commentary sexist? Feminist are good at drawing attention to the problems faced by women, but the fail at their stated purpose of bringing gender neutrality.

    Boys and men also face pressures to live up to stereotypes. Our stereotypes are characters who put their lives in jeopardy to benefit others (G.I. Joe) wantonly slaughter people who don’t meet their standards (Rambo) and always want sex.

    Oddly enough, a news story just came on the radio. A man in my state wants to ban Barbie dolls because he is, “tired of the idea that if you are beautiful you don’t have to be smart.”

    Well, if this leads to requiring women to register for the draft and serve in combat, I’m all for it! If this leads harsh punishment for employers whose male employees take less paternity leave than the females, then I’m even more for it! Now, I will REALLY get behind the Barbie ban if child custody decisions are made without bias favoring mothers.

    I want to see commentary similar to this, but drawing attention to the problems MEN face!

  • Menyambal

    “would have to transform her height, waist, and bust to appear like”

    Erm, as an engineer involved in making scale drawings, I have to object to that. If Barbie is regarded as a scale model of an unrealistically-idealized woman, her height is unknown–she may be meant to represent a 5-foot tall woman, or a 6-foot tall woman–you can’t tell. Unless the box says, “one inch represents one foot”, or something like that, you cannot say that she is disproportionately tall.

    Barbie is disproportionate, yes, but not necessarily excessively tall–she may be short and skinny. The legs are very long in relation to the rest of the body, which would indicate a tall woman, provided the torso is of a normal size. In that case, though, the torso is the basis for the scaling up. Unless some basis of scale is designated, any scaling is meaningless. You can say, “If Barbie’s chest is assumed to be 36 inches around, she would be 7 feet tall.”

    In the before and after pics above, it looks like the shoulder and hips measurements were held constant, but it doesn’t say so as clearly as I would like.

    I’m sorry that this is needlessly picky, but I was reminded of the day that I came home from a long day of making scale models and drawings, including a few discussions like this (about electric fans, thanks), and I found my wife fuming about a forwarded e-mail about Barbie’s odd proportions. The gist of the message was that if Barbie were enlarged to human proportions, she would not be of human proportions. I made the mistake of saying something about scaling, and found myself accused of being sexist and insensitive.

    I should have known better, as I’d already caught a lot of grief for mentioning the possibility that the use of scantily-clad women in advertising wasn’t exploiting women’s bodies, but rather exploiting the reaction of men’s bodies to images of scantily clad women. So, here and now, apologies to any who are offended.

    Love the site!

  • Menyambal

    “would have to transform her height, waist, and bust to appear like”

    Erm, as an engineer involved in making scale drawings, I have to object to that. If Barbie is regarded as a scale model of an unrealistically-idealized woman, her height is unknown–she may be meant to represent a 5-foot tall woman, or a 6-foot tall woman–you can’t tell. Unless the box says, “one inch represents one foot”, or something like that, you cannot say that she is disproportionately tall.

    Barbie is disproportionate, yes, but not necessarily excessively tall–she may be short and skinny. The legs are very long in relation to the rest of the body, which would indicate a tall woman, provided the torso is of a normal size. In that case, though, the torso is the basis for the scaling up. Unless some basis of scale is designated, any scaling is meaningless. You can say, “If Barbie’s chest is assumed to be 36 inches around, she would be 7 feet tall.”

    In the before and after pics above, it looks like the shoulder and hips measurements were held constant, but it doesn’t say so as clearly as I would like.

    I’m sorry that this is needlessly picky, but I was reminded of the day that I came home from a long day of making scale models and drawings, including a few discussions like this (about electric fans, thanks), and I found my wife fuming about a forwarded e-mail about Barbie’s odd proportions. The gist of the message was that if Barbie were enlarged to human proportions, she would not be of human proportions. I made the mistake of saying something about scaling, and found myself accused of being sexist and insensitive.

    I should have known better, as I’d already caught a lot of grief for mentioning the possibility that the use of scantily-clad women in advertising wasn’t exploiting women’s bodies, but rather exploiting the reaction of men’s bodies to images of scantily clad women. So, here and now, apologies to any who are offended.

    Love the site!

  • J.

    How about this one? Barbie could be OUTLAWED!

  • J.

    How about this one? Barbie could be OUTLAWED!

  • elo

    barbie iiz bad

  • elo

    barbie iiz bad

  • busagirl

    Interesting. I celebrated my 50th birthday a few weeks ago and friends & family tell me I still look like a Black Barbie. I’m 6’1″ weighing approx 160-165 lbs and feel great – love celebrating my 50 yrs with Barbie. I’ve always considered Barbie to be tall mostly due to my friends tagging me as such. (Tall, slim & attractive). Also, playing w/Barb growing up she always had the longest legs so I identified with her. Interesting debate on her height.

  • busagirl

    Interesting. I celebrated my 50th birthday a few weeks ago and friends & family tell me I still look like a Black Barbie. I’m 6’1″ weighing approx 160-165 lbs and feel great – love celebrating my 50 yrs with Barbie. I’ve always considered Barbie to be tall mostly due to my friends tagging me as such. (Tall, slim & attractive). Also, playing w/Barb growing up she always had the longest legs so I identified with her. Interesting debate on her height.

  • Skittlez

    I personally think Barbie iz a BAD role model. The scientific stuff doesn’t matter, she’s a doll for ciren out loud, she’s SUPPOSED to look “perfect”! But if you think about it, have you noticed that it never shows barbie wearing a BRA? How do you feel if your little girl is changing her outfits and she can see her (i’m not EVEN gonna say it!)? Really, barbies. BAD. She’s a SLUT.

  • Skittlez

    I personally think Barbie iz a BAD role model. The scientific stuff doesn’t matter, she’s a doll for ciren out loud, she’s SUPPOSED to look “perfect”! But if you think about it, have you noticed that it never shows barbie wearing a BRA? How do you feel if your little girl is changing her outfits and she can see her (i’m not EVEN gonna say it!)? Really, barbies. BAD. She’s a SLUT.

  • Haiiii

    Bad bad Barbie! I had ONE Barbie growing up that had and the others were bare! When ur 3-6 u don’t have the “girls” and I don’t think u want Barbie to either! JUST BAN BARBIE

  • Haiiii

    Bad bad Barbie! I had ONE Barbie growing up that had and the others were bare! When ur 3-6 u don’t have the “girls” and I don’t think u want Barbie to either! JUST BAN BARBIE