Barbie Body Image

How Toys Like Barbie Influence Our Body Image

Check out this information on Barbie body image and how she is influencing girls around the world. How many girls grown up playing with Barbie dolls? A lot. Statistics show that two Barbie's are sold every second somewhere in the world. In fact, the average American girl from ages 3 to 11 owns 10. (1)

Barbie's Body Type

If you met Barbie as a human being, what would she look like? There are differing views. You can see one example in the picture to your right.

barbie body image graphic

Another source says Barbie would stand about 5’6”, weigh nearly 120 pounds, and have the measurements 38-18-34. 38 inches for her chest - 18 inches at her waist - 34 at her hips. It is speculated that if Barbie were human, she would be so thin that she would not be able to menstruate. This is because she would not have the body fat percentage necessary to do so. Statistics say the Barbie body type is likely to occur in one out of every 100,000 women (2).

No matter what way you look at it, Barbie's body is not average... and also not easily attainable.

View more body image statistics here

Barbie's Impact

What impact does this have on young girls that spend hours and hours playing with these dolls? Do they want to become like Barbie and look like her?

We know that the more time we spend with anything, the more influence it has on us. If you spend weeks studying for a test, you'll probably do better than if you just spend a few minutes studying.

I (Shelley) think the same is true with our time. If we spend hours and hours playing with Barbie dolls, they are bound to have an influence on us. Just as if we would spend hours and hours playing video games.

One Woman's Quest to Become Barbie


There is one woman, Cindy Jackson, who was so influenced by Barbie that it became her life mission to look exactly like her. Her obsession to look like Barbie started when her parents bought her first Barbie at the age of 6. And she didn't give up until she reached her goal. She ended up spending about $55,000 and underwent 20 plastic surgery operations to reach her goal of becoming Barbie.(3)

20 operations!

This is just one more example of how impossible it is to reach this ideal image without major alterations of our natural beauty.

Advertising can also cause us to try to reach an unrealistic ideal image of beauty. Watch this eye-opening video to see for yourself.

A 1965 Barbie Body Image Message

I couldn't believe this when I read it... In 1965 Mattel came out with a “Slumber Party Barbie” that came complete with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 pounds. The doll also came with a book entitled How to Lose Weight. And inside this book it gave the advice: “Don’t Eat”. The matching Ken doll also came with slumber party accessories, but his were milk and cookies, sending a very different message (1).

Barbie Transformed

barbie and ken

Mattel received many criticisms about Barbie and the impact she has on young girls around the world. In the summer of 2000, they decided to change Barbie to a more modern look.

“The new Barbie will have a more natural body shape – less busty with wider hips.”

What caused Mattel to make these changes? One influence may have been a drop in sales. According to the Los Angles Business Journal, Barbie sales dropped from $2 billion to $1.5 billion in 1999.(4)

Barbie went under further changes in 2016 when Mattel released their line of new body shapes. The three new shapes included curvy, tall, and petite Barbie dolls. As well as featuring seven skin tones and 22 eye colors in addition to their new clothing line and hairstyles.

We Weren't Meant To Be Barbie

I (Heather) recently read a blog post called “Why I Never Wanted to Be a Barbie Doll” by Sheila Rhodes. She talked about how she played with Barbie dolls a lot when she was a child and realized that she would never measure up to them. Even as Mattel started changing the image of Barbie, and giving her careers and cars, it just reinforced her belief that she would never have it all. But she began to realize why that was a good thing. One quote I especially loved from her article was this: She said, “Keep this in mind. Barbie was never real, but YOU are made in God’s image, not Mattel’s.”

In a Tweet she went on to say that, “God never expected girls to become a Barbie Doll. We are not mass produced.” Those words really penetrated me. The world would have us believe that there is beauty shaped cookie cutter, and if you don’t fit the mold, you don’t fit the bill. But that is so far from the truth! God created each of us uniquely in His image. We are all different, but we are all our own kind of beautiful.  

Body Image Lies

There are many other influences on our body image that just toys and advertising. Many times it is the thoughts within our minds and how we see ourselves. We can get to the point where we begin to believe lies about ourselves. Have you fallen for this body image lie?

About the Authors

Shelley Hitz and Heather Hart have been working together for close to a decade. This ministry stems from their combined efforts to help today's teen girls find their true beauty in Christ.

You can learn more about them and their ministry here:

Shelley and Heather have written a book...

specifically for teen girls -- and this book could change your life or the life of a teen girl you know!

Find out more now

Here's something else to think about regarding Barbie...


1) Pendergast, Sara. “Barbie.” Gale Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. 2002.
2) Norton, Kevin I. “Ken and Barbie at Life Size.” Sex Roles. (Feb. 1996): 287-294.
3) Cindy Jackson.
4)Gorchov, Jolie. "Mattel Giving Middle-Aged Barbie a Major Makeover." Los Angeles Business Journal 20 Mar. 2000. 18 Feb. 2003.


1) Barbie compared to average adult woman
2) 5.6 billion Barbie

Return from Barbie Body Image to The Problem With Our Self Esteem

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Do you think Barbie influences girls today? Do you think playing with dolls like Barbie put an unrealistic goal of what we should look like?

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What Other Have Said...

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idealistic appearance 
I think that Barbie dolls create an idealistic appearance which is accepted by girls at a very young age. This means that they will grow up being dissapointed …

I don't think that Barbie influences the little girls who play with her, but I think that the media portray Barbie to girls, especially teenagers, as what …

She Doesn't Influence Me! 
Okay, everyone is totally going against Barbie. I am 12 and I love Barbie Dolls and I am very mature. Obviously, if you let Barbie influence you about …

I'm proud to be me.  
I am the type of person that loves to play with Barbie, I mean yes, I am 13 but I still love Barbie. But I don't ever remember saying to myself "I want …

Barbie is amazing 
Barbie is amazing! These are just some of barbies occupations: Aerobics Instructor. Actress. Air Force. Ambassador For World Peace. American Idol …

thick and loving it! 
As an african American young woman, i personally find the Barbie doll extremely offensive. I have wide hips, big lips, only average breast size and i am …

Hi, I am a dad and a teacher. The other day my 3 year old I were in KMart, a large Australian retailer and we happened to walk down the aisle and she …

"Barbie Blues" 
Hello, my name is Chloe and I'm a 14 year old girl. My freinds already have nicknamed me Barbie and I'm infamous for my pink lips, and bleech coloured …

Didn't realize the dimensions had changed until... 
My 4 year old finally inherited my trunk load of Barbie accessories and clothes this past weekend. Out of my frustration in NOT finding sensible clothes …

barbie the moral killer 
I think Barbie is a very poor representation of "The Average American Woman." Barbie is a better example to the girls who have dreams of becoming models. …

OMG i have so much to say...!!! 
like what is it with barbie and her body these days she looks so retarded and demented!!!!!!!!!! she needs to grow a body man!!! and what up with her and …

i am barbie............. 
hi barbies i feel like im a barbie cause i got a pretty face and smooth skin.... rite now im in class an i am dressed like a barbie cause im a barbie gurl …

There is nothing wrong with Barbie 
I have played with Barbie all my life and I am perfectly at home with my body. I am short (a little over 5ft) with a large rump and not so large chest. …

Barbie Project 
My friends and I are in 8th grade and have been working on our History Day project. In case you dont know what History Day is, it's an analysis project …

Barbie Collector in Illinois 
I grew up with Barbie. I was born in 1963. I loved the way Barbie used to look, and do not like the new body style of Barbie that started in 2000. I …

Barbiee is a --> DOLL 
I think that Barbie has an influence on everyone! Not just young girls but girls from the ages on 4+. This includes middle aged women. I feel that …

I LOVE BABRIE i want to be her she's perfect and i dont care if i never have a period i guess it's just the price you have to pay now isn't it :) sooo …

Yes, I think Barbie does influence most girls (or even all). I personally have never been too obsessed with my looks and all. But I think it is a shame …

4 year old fat? 
My little cousin has spent so much time playing with Barbies she thinks she is fat, and since she was a preemie baby she is underweight. When her parents …

No, I do not think Barbie influences the little girl playing with her, I have 2 kids, both played with Barbie and Ken, neither of them ever pretended to …

Barbie has attacked! 
Barbie has seriously conquered over us! The thinness, the height, the face. Fake, i tell you! FAKE! No one can look this way, everyone is beautiful, cuz …

Barbie is unrealistic!!!!! 
barbie has a bad influence on teen girls!!!!!!!! If she was a real person, she would die because she is unproportional!!!

My senior project about Barbie 
im doing my senior project on the effect that barbie has on girls' body image. Im really excited about it i just started researching it and its all so …

Barbie equals False 
I liked Barbie because you could dress her up in pretty clothes, but I didn't like that she was so unrealistically thin. No human could be that thin naturally …

Click here to write your own.

I think little girls when they get a gorgeous perfect barbie doll for Christmas at some point it might go through there head i want to look just like that. …

Barbie's negative impact on little girls 
I think Barbie, has negative impact on little girls and cause them to develop poor body images. Is it still going on today? When did 'Barbie' start affecting …

Barbie is not bad 
First of all Barbie is JUST a doll... nothing more or less. I think a Barbie doll has nothing to do with a child's body image. I think a child's body image …

Barbie is every girls idol 
Darbie is every girls idol. I think that she is a excellent idol for every little girl. I don't think that she puts an unrealistic goal of what we should …

Unrealisitc Role Model 
Barbie gives young girls everywhere a "successful woman" to look up to. But in reality, she is setting an unrealistically high standard for girls to measure …

barbie is not that bad 
I've noticed time and time again, people bashing Barbie and "what she stands for". Especially her figure. In my experience with reading, playing …


Barbie Body Image 
I' m glad they recently changed the look of the Barbie so it gives girls a better image:)

Ever since i was little i've always been overweight. Like every other girl in America i used to play with Barbie dolls. But the thing is, even when i was …

I have been a strong believer of loving yourself for how you look and acheieving the best body you can in a healthy and realistic manor. This idea that …

Just a media image.  
The doll is what you make it? If you feel you must look like the doll then that is the way it influences you. If the doll stands for feminine power that …

Just like Barbie 
Thats what my 10 yr. old said to me. That she wanted to look just like Barbie. She was a little over weight, but within the next six months, she was under …

Yes I do think Barbies do influence young girls today. It is not good how much impact that the "small" dolls have such a huge impact on out young children. …

Barbie isnt the only"Blonde Bombshell" in childrens lives! 
Yes Barbie is in almost every house that has a little girl in it these days but there are also televisions, magazines and computers in these households …

Barbie IS Media 
Barbie's wide variety of careers and professions is a good example for young girls to look up to, but one thing to consider is that Barbie IS the media, …

Yes, there are unrealistic body ideals, but Barbie isn't all bad. She's not like a Bratz or Polly Pocket; all they do is shop. Barbie sets a good example: …

Negative Body Image 
I too played with barbies when I was younger. I am now 21 years old and I have many issues with my body and have a hard time looking at myself because …

I think that people put to much value into what Barbie stands for, when in actuality she is just a great childhood toy. I played with Barbies from the …

I disagree (and other random thoughts) 
I think Barbie is just a fun toy for little girls. I don't think it has a negative effect on girls' body image. I think when we COMPARE ourselves to Barbie, …

A bad reaction 
I never really thought of Barbies as a role model for body image until now. When I was little, I was very chubby, & I am about ten pounds overweight now.. …

When I was little I loved Barbie. I still do. But when I was little I just thought she was pretty and most of the time she was sparkly and had pretty clothes. …

Picture Perfect ? 
im 16yr old girl making my way through my last 2yrs of high school, and i live at the Gold Coast, an area that is based around the 'ideal beach body'and …

barbie body image 
i personally like barbie and think that she is the fashion icon of all time.

Barbie is too mind changing in a bad way.... 
Yes Barbie has lots of jobs and does many things, but now she has taken it to a new level. A couple of years ago there was a pregnant barbie and now her …

My Main Issue 
Well when I was a kid I did like Barbie, mostly just the movies because you hardly do anything with the dolls but my friends were into Brats and everything …

Click here to write your own.

barbie from a tweens view 
barbie influences tween girls too.we may not own alot of them but most of us wish we could look like them.most tweens are actually aware that if they really …

barbie impact 
barbies have a huge impact on young girls. it makes them think that they have to be well......perfect.

Shay Shay 
Ok... so when I first got on this site I wasn't even thinking about trying to look like barbie. I love the way I look. Then when they compare pictures …

Barbie Dolls - It's not fair to us... 
I'm 13 years old. On my baby sister's birthday, she recieved two Barbies. This may seem a little silly, but I as I sat in the car, pondering the Barbie's …

Godly Barbies 
I think Barbie can influence girls if they let her image affect their thought of how they should look. i mean, come on, she has like a two centimeter waistline! …

barbie and the marketing system and kids 
barbie is just a lone doll that parents are buying for their kids to play with. But the more the that kid gets attached to that doll they more accessories …

Fansty world !!!!!! 
Barbie doll is so fake she's not happy its a fantasy to be her. Girls, teen girls, and young women want to be that fantasy barbie doll. Don't be want you …

Barbie is unrealistic 
I once heard that if a life-size Barbie was created, it wouldn't even be able to stand up because it's body is so unnaturally proportioned!! (Disclaimer: …

My story about Barbie 
When I was really little, I played with Barbies a lot. But then, I stopped when I was five or six because they didn't look enough like a friend. I thought …

The Real Barbie 
I do think Barbie influences girls today.. Not just little girls but adults as well. Not so much in a bad way though.. Barbie is so fun to play with. …

my beauty expert is the best! 
I think Barbie, Style channel and beauty magazines all affect us. It puts an "ideal" in front of us that is impossible for most of us to match. A number …

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