I’ve been thinking about what I want to say about the “Normal Barbie” By Nickolay Lamm. If you haven’t heard about it yet, the “normal” Barbie is a “realistically proportioned Barbie” created from CDC measurements of an average 19-year-old woman. There is quite the debate over whether or not the original Barbie is harmful to young girls and their self-esteem. I think the debate is more about how women feel, not girls.

Who is complaining about the body proportions of the original Barbie? Women.  Not girls.

Young girls, those who would typically play with Barbie, have not learned to judge and compare body types yet (they get that from listening to women in their lives).  My own 8 year old daughter plays with the original Barbies and I’ve never heard her ask to be more shapely like Barbie.  Not once.  It’s a toy, intended for entertainment.  She also plays with Lalaloopsy who has a giant head and stick legs.  I don’t see harm in it nor do I expect my daughter to have self-esteem issues because her head is not big like Lalaloopsy. As one Facebook commenter stated, “I loved playing with Raggedy Anne when I was young too but that doesn’t mean I wanted to grow up to look like her.”

I don’t expect athletes, movie stars or toy manufacturers to teach my children self-confidence. That job belongs to my husband and I.

As a woman working in the beauty and fashion world, I hear all kinds of insecurities come out of women’s mouths (including my own sometimes). Fashion magazines are ridiculed all the time for using “too thin” models and actresses. It doesn’t bother me, here’s why: the clothes look beautiful, the photography is art. It’s time to STOP comparing yourself to models, dolls and other women. We need to stop judging so much and start appreciating. Appreciate the skills others have, the beauty one brings and in the case of original Barbie, the joy one brings to the world. Ask most adult women and I’ll bet they will tell you they had a Barbie and loved playing with it as a child. Joy.

So, is it ok for a “normal Barbie” to hit the shelves? Sure, people come in all shapes and sizes, why not dolls? Is it more realistic to a typical woman’s body shape? Sure it is but that doesn’t matter to a child who is using her imagination. Not when pillows, boxes and stuffed animals are used as friends in imagination play. Kids don’t care about the reality of a doll’s shape.

Is it ok to remove the original Barbie? I don’t believe so, at least not on the grounds that it “harms” girls self-image. It’s not Mattel’s job to make sure our daughters are ok with their body shape, it’s ours. Be careful what you say about the doll, your own body or even other women’s bodies. Be careful not to let your own insecurities ring through loud and clear to your daughter. THAT is far more damaging than a doll with a tiny waistline.

If you want to expose your daughter to the reality of body shape, turn her on to Dove’s campaign for Real Beauty. It’s a lovely campaign. Teach your daughter about health, exercise and the influence of diet. When she gets older, teach her how to dress her body in a flattering, appropriate way. Teach your daughter about appreciating others gifts and beauty. These actions are far more helpful than criticizing a toy that is intended for joy and imagination play.

What do you think of the Barbie Makeover? Post your comments below.

Image source: MyDeals.com


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TAMMY GIBSON, founder of A Mom in Red High Heels, is a God-loving, coffee-drinking, heel-wearing, wife and mom offering up her best tips to help women look and feel fabulous so they can achieve their biggest dreams.


  1. I totally agree with you Tammy. As a Hispanic child growing up with Barbie…I don’t ever remember thinking I need to be thin, tall and blonde to be beautiful. My parents said I was pretty and that was enough for me as a child.

    Now as a mother of interracial children…I continually tell them they are not only beautiful but smart, kind and ladies as well. Their confidence comes from us, their parents, not Mattel.

    We love Barbie as she was and appreciate dolls that look different as well but that doesn’t make us want to be like them.

    PS love the Lalaloopsy refererence = perfect. 🙂

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