The Fat’s in the Fire

DSCN2726

You too can have this waist!

The fat’s in the fire. Hear it spit and sizzle. And about time. For years I’ve fought the Barbie Doll myth, but even on my home ground (that would be on my body) I haven’t won. I don’t know of a woman who, going into a fitting room to try on a new dress, is comfortable in her body. Turning slowly (like a pig on a rotisserie) in front of a three-way mirror, we women look at the dress and by extension, our body. The dress is either too tight or too matronly. Do I look fat? is the question on every woman’s lips. And whether or not we are fat, the answer is always YES!

Where did all this loathing come from? Although I was born before Barbie (who came to life  in 1959) her tiny waist, perky boobs and incredibly long legs reinforced my poor self-image. I was determined that my daughters would not have a Barbie. That said, a well-meaning friend felt so sorry for  my first-born that she bought Dana a Barbie AND a curling iron.

2016 barbie vs realAccording to the Willett Survey, 99 percent of American 3 to 10-year-olds own at least one Barbie, and yes, girls exposed to Barbie report lower body self-esteem and greater desire for a thinner body. If you translated Barbie’s torso to real inches and compared Barbie’s body to the average woman, you would see the distortion immediately. Barbie’s original waist translated to only 16″ while a real woman’s waist is 35″; Barbie’s hips were only 29″ while the average woman’s hips are 40″; finally, Barbie’s thighs were only 16″ while the average women’s are 25″. And Barbie’s legs! Look at the photo to the right and be amazed.

Slowly Barbie has evolved. The biggest change is her ankles are now flexible so she can wear flats, athletic shoes or combat boots. No longer is Barbie required to wear stilettos. That is a giant leap forward… not only for her but for mankind: it is very possible that Barbie can now aspire to being an astronaut.

new and old barbie

Out with the old; in with the new.

Due to popular demand, Barbie now comes in 7 skin tones, and children can choose from 24 hairstyles. (Although research has shown that young children only recognize the blonde figures as ‘Barbie’… those with other hair colors are just ‘dolls.) Mattel’s most recent change is that Barbie now comes in three body types:  tall, petite, and  curvy. “Curvy” Barbie has blue hair. Love it.

 

Writing in Time Magazine, Eliana Docklerman wrote about the shallowness of Barbie.  “As much as Mattel has tried to market her as a feminist […] at her core, she’s just a body, not a character, a canvas upon which society can project its anxieties about body image.” (See <time.com/barbie-new-body-cover-story>.)

2016 April Barbie

cover photo: Kenji Aoki

Last week a friend gave me a copy of 13 Ways of Looking at a Fat Girl by Denver author Mona Awad. I was thrilled. I had heard National Public Radio interviews with the author on both KRCC Colorado Springs and on CPR Denver. In both cases, Awad read laugh-aloud snippets from the book. Well… she read some funny bits – she left out the painful parts to be read by readers… in the privacy of their bedrooms with the covers pulled up and the lights dimmed. Plot-wise, I don’t want to give anything away, but it’s not easy being fat. Not that we don’t already know that, but the on-going fight to be thin… as thin as Barbie, can be as painful as being fat.

 

It’s time to show moderation and let the anxieties go.

 

,

About timeout2

I have lived 100 lives. I write essays, short stories, poetry, grocery lists and notes to myself. If I am ever lost, look for a paper trail, but be careful not to trip over any books that lie scattered here and there. I am a reader. I am a reader in awe of writers. When I don't live in Westcliffe, Colorado, I live in London where I am a long-time member of Word-for-Word - Crouch End.
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10 Responses to The Fat’s in the Fire

  1. James says:

    Having just returned from wandering around Italian galleries, museums and even churches, I beheld naked men and women, (whose beauty is not time-limited) sculpted and frescoed into eternity….and not a single Barbie!!!. And, even Da Vinci was critical of Michelangelo’s heavily muscled (like a bag of walnuts) men. Long live that beauty!

    • timeout2 says:

      I love “like a bag of walnuts,” an apt visual – hard and knotty. I write on my new computer on which I haven’t transferred my old files, but I have written several poems on beauty of Rubenesque women – good poems… good women. Thanks for reading.

  2. Caroline Vornberg says:

    Doris! NEVER would have GUESSED you had body issues! You are so regal/pretty/unusual, blows me away!
    Have just really gotten into your writings—thank you! Nice to get to know you a bit, too.

  3. timeout2 says:

    Dear Caroline, The beauty of 13 WAYS OF LOOKING AT A FAT GIRL is that you don’t have to be “fat” to feel fat. Bombarded as we are with weight-loss advertising and the entertainment industry, we’ve been acculturated to accept Barbie’s body as the ideal. If it isn’t our hips at issue, it is our nose, our lips, or our big feet.

  4. Sherry Johns says:

    As I age, I love my body more and more. Even when I look a myself naked. I’ve earned every scar, every bit of flab and I love how my muscles are stronger since I’ve begun yoga. My daughters never had a Barbie, I did that on purpose. I’m finally on the road to complete self-acceptance.

  5. timeout2 says:

    What a long history we have, Sherry! So many transformative experiences. I’m working on my memoir – what about you? You have an amazing story to tell.

  6. Bar Scott says:

    I understand all of the above (or below) intimately. We women are a collective mess when it comes to our bodies. I found myself wanting to go get a measuring tape to compare my thighs to normal thighs. Pathetic but I’ll probably do it.

    😦

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • timeout2 says:

      Dear Bar, not that I’ve spent a lot of time looking at your thighs… but my guess is that they are inches smaller than average. The next time we three get together, we should have a joint burning of our measuring tapes and then have a piece (or two) of chocolate cake.

  7. Liz says:

    In this era of ready-to-wear clothing we forget that it is the dress that should be made to fit the body and it is not the body that should be made to fit the dress.

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