No little girl can grow up to look like Barbie.  It’s impossible.  She wears a size 3 shoe – just start with that.  Her measurements are 39”, 18”, 33”, which puts even Scarlett O’Hara to shame. 

So how does that shape a little girl’s image of the woman she hopes to become, or does it?

Yes, says Dr. Debbie Grammas, a licensed psychologist with practices in Bellaire and Webster.  She treats all sorts of issues, eating disorders and body image among them.  “The research shows that these dolls say this is the ideal of what you should look like in society.  So this gives them the message that this is what attractive is.” 

A photo-shopped Plus-Size Barbie was created by for the purpose of initiating a dialogue about body images, young girls, and best practices.  It is a Barbie with what some might call “weight-management” issues.  Perhaps she struggles with portion control.  Skinny jeans would not flatter her large thighs, and a bare-midriff shirt would leave her belly protruding.  Barbie’s long and highly-flattering neckline is significantly reduced and hidden behind a triple chin.  The Facebook group created a page for Plus-Size Barbie, which has more than 41,000 likes and many, many comments.  The most frequent complaint is the triple chin, with several people commenting that a person of that size does not necessarily have such an unflattering chin.

Would a Plus-Size Barbie doll give young girls a healthier body image?  Not for all of them, Dr. Grammas cautions.  “There are people trying to fight obesity, and trying to be healthy.  How might they view this?” 

Perhaps ideals, even unattainable, aren’t always bad?

“I would say that it would probably be best to have a whole range of shapes and sizes because that’s what reality is,” says Dr. Grammas.

And Barbie definitely isn’t reality.