barbie She’s been a favourite with young girls for decades. But a life-sized Barbie is being used to demonstrate just how unhealthy the doll’s proportions would be on a real woman. The mannequin, which stands 5ft 9in tall, has a 39in bust, a tiny 18in waist and 33in hips. Even her feet would be disproportionate, at a tiny U.S. size 3. Galia Slayen, who made the model, revealed that a real woman with the same dimensions would weigh just 110lb, giving her a BMI of 16.24 – a figure associated with eating disorders. She told the Huffington Post: ‘If Barbie were an actual woman, she would be 5ft 9in tall, have a 39in bust, an 18in waist, 33in hips and a size 3 shoe. She likely would not menstruate… she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.’ Miss Slayen, a former anorexia sufferer, knows the implications of being underweight all too well, and built the doll as part of her recovery and as a means of raising awareness about the dangers of eating disorders. The giant Barbie, made from chicken wire and papier mache, is now on show at Hamilton College, Oregon, where Miss Slayen is a student, as part of its National Eating Disorder Awareness Week (NEDAW). barbie2She told CBS News: ‘The goal of Barbie is to get people’s attention. Eating disorders are very prevalent and not talked about. It’s sensationalised in the media every time a star loses weight, but this is a very internal struggle.’ Miss Slayen, who played with Barbie dolls as a child, said that her own weight problems began when she was 15. She revealed that a troubled relationship with her parents and pressure from her peers drove her to excessive calorie-counting and exercise – something that became an obsession. She explained: ‘I was living on my own and trying to figure out how I was going to survive. My life was completely out of control and it was the one thing I was able to control – the hours at the gym, the calories I was in-taking. It’s a means to control your life.’

Dressing the life-sized Barbie for her debut was a painful reminder for Miss Slayen of how she once looked to the world. ‘I dressed Barbie in my old clothes,’ she wrote on the Huffington Post. ‘The skirt she still has on today is a reminder of who I once was. That skirt, a size double zero, used to slip off my waist when I was struggling with anorexia. barbie facts‘I put it on Barbie to serve as a reminder that the way Barbie looks, the way I once looked, is not healthy and is not “normal,” whatever normal might mean.’ Dietitian Marisa Sherry told CBS News that the life-sized Barbie’s dimensions would be of serious concern on a real woman. ‘A BMI of under 17 is considered underweight or anorexic,’ she said. ‘That puts you at high risk for negative side effects like osteoporosis, amenorrhea (not being able to menstruate) and low heart rate.’ Miss Slayen now raises funds for the National Eating Disorder Association, and has already generated over $10,000 for the cause. She is now urging insurance companies and the government to offer some support to the 10 million Americans currently suffering from eating disorders. ‘A lot of insurance companies don’t cover eating disorders,’ she said. ‘They don’t see this is not a choice.’


  • There are two Barbie dolls sold every second in the world.
  • The target market for Barbie doll sales is young girls ages 3-12 years of age.
  • A girl usually has her first Barbie by age 3, and collects a total of seven dolls during her childhood.
  • Over a billion dollars worth of Barbie dolls and accessories were sold in 1993, making this doll big business and one of the top 10 toys sold.
  • Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled: ‘How to Lose Weight’ with directions inside stating simply ‘Don’t eat’.
Source: Body Wars, Margo Maine, Ph.D., Gurze Books, 2000
Article by Daily Mail, referred by Lauren Johnson
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I’m so glad that Galia had the strength and courage to conquer her own battle with anorexia and is using her life-size doll to raise awareness for eating disorders. The reality of the life-size barbie proportions is a really powerful image for people to see. I’m hoping that eventually, children will have dolls and toys that depict realistic messages about how their bodies should look.