Morbidly obese Barbie

So apparently it’s big news that some people are trying to get toy companies to make a “plus size” (read: morbidly obese) Barbie doll. I haven’t heard yet if this push also includes support for a beer-bellied Ken doll. Leaving that aside, there is a bigger question looming in my mind about this push: why?

Why do so many people care what a Barbie doll looks like? After all, it’s not like the appearance of the doll affects real world attitudes and behaviors. The current Barbie doll is not overweight, but the vast majority of the women that grew up playing with it are, with over a third of them clinically obese, according to the CDC. A recent study indicates that the method used by the CDC underestimates obesity in women about 48% of the time, which allows us to extrapolate a clinical obesity rate for women of approximately 65%, and an overweight rate of approximately 85%.

Clearly, a non-obese Barbie doll doesn’t reduce the incidence of being overweight in American women. There also doesn’t seem to be any indication that a morbidly obese Barbie doll would reduce this rampant obesity. After all, it’s not like kids these days have never seen a fat lady–not when 85% of women are fat. Kids are smart enough to instinctively realize that fat people don’t look as good as fit people, they don’t need a morbidly obese Barbie to compare to another Barbie to figure it out.

But wait. What’s that I hear being yelled at me from the frothing mouths of fat women around the country? “Barbie causes eating disorders, eating disorders are evil, Barbie is evil!” Hmm… Let’s think about that argument. First off, can Barbie dolls cause eating disorders? Well, we know that the percentage of children exposed to Barbie dolls is quite high, and we know that the incidence of eating disorders is infinitesimal, so right off the bat we can determine that, at least in the vast majority of cases, Barbie dolls do not cause eating disorders. (Unless, of course, we define obesity as an eating disorder. I would argue that we should, but it is not considered such in the existing literature.)

Next up, are eating disorders (again, excluding obesity) really all that evil? It is interesting to note that in addition to being extremely rare, eating disorders generally are acute, short-term conditions with a high rate of full recovery. In fact, the most deadly of eating disorders, anorexia nervosia, kills an average of 145 people per year in the US. This is in contrast to say, the number of people killed per year by accidentally suffocating themselves with their blankets or pillows while sleeping, which is 661. That’s right, 4.5 times more people are killed by beds every year than by anorexia.

It gets even more interesting when you contrast the anorexia death rate with the obesity death rate, which is 300,000 per year. That means 2069 times as many people are killed by being fat every year than are killed by being anorexic. And yet we are told that it is anorexia that is evil.

Obesity is far more evil.

So why this push for a morbidly obese Barbie? Simply put, Barbie has become an emblem for sexiness, and every woman wants to be sexy. Some women channel this desire into an exercise and nutrition regimen that allows them to maintain a fit, trim, and desirable body. Others, too lazy to take control of their own eating and exercise habits, think that they can become sexy by redefining what sexy is. Make a morbidly obese Barbie, and all of a sudden the morbidly obese woman can tell herself that she is sexy because she looks like Barbie. Of course, this rationalization completely misses the point that a morbidly obese Barbie simply wouldn’t be sexy.

19 thoughts on “Morbidly obese Barbie

  1. “Of course, this rationalization completely misses the point that a morbidly obese Barbie simply wouldn’t be sexy.”

    Not to you, maybe. As much as I could find a piece of plastic “sexy”, I would certainly find a larger barbie figure sexier than the current model, even to the point of obesity.
    I’ve got a friend who has two girls aged eight and six. The oldest one worries she is fat. She’s not. But she plays with dolls who, like Barbie, are virtually anorexics. Having variation in size of these toys would be one tiny step to eliminating the preoccupation with body image as a quality that defines the value of a person from a child’s psychology. It has been shown that shaming people into weight loss doesn’t work, and calling them lazy (as you did) turns them towards the idol of food and worsens the problem. Obesity stems from a variety of problems from the chemical, environmental, societal to the personal. Dissatisfaction with body image causes depression that doesn’t kill but certainly harms. My wife is a victim of this. Doesn’t matter how many times I tell her I find her attractive, she doesn’t believe it herself and so remains miserable. So maybe if larger girls think they’re sexy, then that’s one thing that will help them to be a little bit happier. That isn’t a bad thing.

  2. @Andrew:

    But she plays with dolls who, like Barbie, are virtually anorexics.

    Barbie is far from anorexic. She has ass-cheeks. She has boobs. Anorexics have neither. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anorexia_nervosa#mediaviewer/File:Anorexia_case-1900-Nouvelle_icononographie_de_la_Salpetriere.jpg

    It has been shown that shaming people into weight loss doesn’t work

    Also untrue. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2552110/Look-state-Youre-disgusting-Women-loses-10-stone-humiliated-man-threw-drink-night-size.html

  3. (sorry for commenting twice, but I couldn’t see an edit button).
    Just thought of something else: It’s society that impresses upon us our standard of beauty. We get told from billboards exactly what is attractive and what it’s not, and these days, women base their value on how closely they fit this image. This is idolatry. The bible clearly states in Proverbs 31 what qualities a good woman (wife) should have, and none of them include being skinny or beautiful like Angelina Jolie. So if we can broaden society’s definition of beauty we can make it more of a non-issue, and this demon of dissatisfaction that drives my wife to not attending church out of shame for the way she looks (on particularly bad days) can be weakened. It’s not the solution – the solution is turning to Christ and the bible and basing your beliefs on it, in this case, Proverbs 31. But the solution is easier to grasp when you haven’t had it drummed into you from the age of nine (the age my wife was taken to a dietician about her weight) that you are less valuable, no good, LAZY, because you’re overweight.

    You claim to want to represent a proper Christian man, and show boys what a proper Christian man is. Do you really want to raise a culture of boys who look at overweight women and think, “They’re all lazy.”? You know the side-effects of this will be that these boys you have raised to be men will treat these women like second-class citizens, right? These women will look at these men and think, “If this is what it means to be a Christian, then Christianity is evil.” and you will bring dishonour to God. Do you apply the same theory to other disorders? “I’m an alcoholic.” “Stop being lazy.” I’m a compulsive gambler. “Stop being lazy.” I have depression. “Stop being lazy.” I’m a sinner. “Stop being lazy.” No? I hope not, because this is not how Jesus treated sinners. How did he treat them? With the same love and compassion and direction to stop sinning as everyone else. Just as we are directed: Ephesians 4: Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”

    Here’s a short article on what’s been titled the “obesity epidemic.” It has some lists of causes. It’s not an ideal article but it’s a start. If I find the one I’m after, I’ll post it. http://www.forbes.com/sites/geoffreykabat/2014/06/09/we-are-nowhere-near-understanding-the-causes-of-obesity-and-how-to-prevent-it/2/ . Educate yourself, for the sake of the women your disciples will otherwise one day harm. I’m praying you do with all my heart, because I don’t want others to suffer the way my wife has suffered. I’ve read a few more of your articles since starting this an some of what you have is good, but harm is so much easier to do than good. Don’t drag God’s name through the mud by promoting such toxic views.

    Obese people have a problem, sure. They have some responsibility. Some struggle with diets for a time but are unable to keep it up. Others have simply given up the fight. You will not help them by calling them lazy. You will help them by teaching them about God, Jesus, and that he loves them unconditionally, whether they are 100 pounds or 400.

  4. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-2552110/Look-state-Youre-disgusting-Women-loses-10-stone-humiliated-man-threw-drink-night-size.html
    Actually, you can’t take a single occurrence like this and paint it as the norm. What you need to do is studies to determine if the pattern works in most cases. And in most cases, it doesn’t. Here’s an article that mentions a study: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/29/fat-shaming-weight-gain_n_3670560.html here’s another: http://www.inquisitr.com/1470976/shocker-fat-shaming-doesnt-motivate-obese-people-to-lose-weight-heres-what-does-work/ and another: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/now-theres-proof-that-fatshaming-doesnt-work-its-time-to-change-our-attitudes-towards-obesity-9729294.html and another: http://www.nbcnews.com/health/diet-fitness/fat-shaming-actually-increases-risk-becoming-or-staying-obese-new-f8C10751491 and another: http://www.takepart.com/article/2014/07/16/heres-what-happened-when-50-obese-women-documented-fat-shaming-week . Some of these actually have links to the scholarly articles.

    Furthermore, is that what you’re encouraging young men to do? To tell women they’re disgusting and pour glasses over their heads? Which part of the bible inspires you believe this is acceptable behaviour for an ambassador of God?

    The last article I posted details how women who go to the gym are often laughed at for being overweight. This is what your boys will do, you realise. As soon as obese people leave the house, they’ll recieve torments from people of your ilk who believe they’re doing God’s will by making them ashamed. If you knew my wife you’d know she’s already ashamed, beyond measure, and this makes her seek comfort, including food. I’m thankful the Christians around her don’t make her feel this way, or she would be completely isolated.

    As for the appearance of barbie: Yes, she does have breasts and hips. I’ll be more clear: her body shape is not attainable by real women, and is unhealthy. I’ll find some articles which support this if you want.

  5. Do you apply the same theory to other disorders? “I’m an alcoholic.” “Stop being lazy.” I’m a compulsive gambler. “Stop being lazy.” I have depression. “Stop being lazy.” I’m a sinner. “Stop being lazy.” No? I hope not, because this is not how Jesus treated sinners.

    Jesus commanded “Go, and sin no more.”

    This applies to gluttony as much to any other sin. Now, there may be some that are obese and are not gluttons–obesity in and of itself is not a sin. However, this does not mean that obesity is therefore attractive or desirable

    You claim that my readers will treat obese women as second-class citizens. However, you have failed to provide any rationale for this claim. If my readers treat every sluggard, every glutton, every drunkard, every blasphemer, every infidel, every Sabbath-breaker–every sinner as a second-class citizen, they would treat no one as a first-class citizen and the term second-class would be worthless.

  6. I agree that obesity is not attractive nor desirable to every man or woman. But my wife is attractive and desirable to me at the size she is. You have no right to judge her. Before her own master she stands or falls (romans 14:4). I am her earthly master and God is her heavenly master. You have no right to pour a drink over her head and call her disgusting. You have no right to call her lazy, as you did above (indirectly). I do stress we both want her to lose weight for health reasons, but it isn’t from lack of trying.

    It is, however, good that you acknowledge that not every case of obesity is caused by gluttony or as the direct result of the person’s sinfulness. By golly it’s a start. Thank you, and praise be to God.

    In case it’s not clear: to provide rationale for my claim you mentioned above: If you, a leader of Christian boys, call fat women lazy in a public setting like this website, then your ‘followers’ (for lack of a better term), who look up to you and imitate your behaviour, will also call fat people ‘lazy’ for not being thin. It might not be on a website. It might be in person, the next time they’re at church together. It might be during a bible study, in front of all her friends. Likewise, if you post an article saying “fat shaming works,” then they may read it and go, “Hey look, Moose Norseman says if I call my sister/mother/daughter disgusting then she’ll lose weight.” And they may go do as you appear to be suggesting. If you had a daughter who was overweight, who hated school for fear of being bullied, who hated herself as my wife does, you would find this practice abominable.

  7. In over 10 years, I have never seen an obese person mocked in a gym–and I’ve spent a good amount of times in gyms. I’ve seen 250lb bodybuilders teased about being petite when they fail a 400lb bench press. I’ve seen guys at about 6% BF be told they are getting fat and should do some cardio, but it’s all in fun. The gym community is extremely inclusive, and most gym-rats absolutely love helping a beginner design a program.

    People who are insecure about themselves take every normal interaction as a personal affront. I don’t have an army of gym-rats that I organize to camp out in obese people’s front yards, to torment them when they leave home. If I tried, I’d run out of gym-rats in short order.

    The idea that fat people can’t leave home without being shamed is ludicrous–the shaming is only in their heads

    If you, a leader of Christian boys, call fat women lazy in a public setting like this website, then your ‘followers’ (for lack of a better term), who look up to you and imitate your behaviour, will also call fat people ‘lazy’ for not being thin.

    You seem to misread what I wrote. Note that I did not say that all fat people are lazy. I said that some are too lazy to take control of their own eating and exercise habits. This is an incontrovertible fact. Some–or “others,” the word I used–does not mean all.

  8. I don’t know about the gym, but I’ve kissed my wife at a bus stop once and a passerby criticised her weight, and my interest in her. Of course it happens. It’s not in their minds. And WRT the gym: what reason do you have for not believing the article I posted? Do you assume these women are lying, just because you haven’t seen it? And when they speak to people about it, can you imagine if they reacted like you just did and told them they were just imagining it because they have fragile egos?
    So far, I have not seen God’s love in you.
    And you did not say some. You put people into two categories. Those who changed their weight, and others that were too lazy to try and control their behaviour. Not once did you address the people who feel ashamed of themselves for being overweight. You never defended the weak, the downtrodden in society: those who (whether real or not) feel they can’t leave their house for fear of being tormented. If an obese barbie figure can convince just a few of these women that they’re sexy, encourage them to get dressed, do their hair, get involved in church/uni/growth groups/camps, then what’s really wrong with it? Chances are, according to the numerous studies I’ve shown you and plain physics, that they’ll be physically healthier for it.
    I don’t know what position you’re defending. Are you worried that if society stops finding only thin attractive that more women will become fat and lead unhealthy lifestyles? Well, I just posted a few articles which showed that the opposite is true. The more friendly people are to them, the more accepting, the more likely their weight will stay the same.

  9. Are you worried that if society stops finding only thin attractive that more women will become fat and lead unhealthy lifestyles?

    You don’t get it. I’m not telling people what they should find attractive–I’m laughing at those who think they can. You’ve got the cart before the horse my friend. It’s not that society finds fit women attractive because they are represented by dolls, advertisements, etc. Rather, it is that fit women are represented by dolls, advertisements, etc precisely because they are attractive.

  10. So are you saying you don’t actually believe that dolls influence children (particularly girls) into thinking they’re not attractive unless they’re thin?
    If so, I really don’t see the importance of blogging on this issue in a Christian setting – if all you’re trying to say is, “only thin girls are attractive so only they should be made into dolls.” Would you mind explaining to me why you think this issue is important enough to bring to a blog directed at helping boys grow into good Christian men?

  11. So are you saying you don’t actually believe that dolls influence children (particularly girls) into thinking they’re not attractive unless they’re thin?

    Did you even read the post?

    Why do so many people care what a Barbie doll looks like? After all, it’s not like the appearance of the doll affects real world attitudes and behaviors. The current Barbie doll is not overweight, but the vast majority of the women that grew up playing with it are, with over a third of them clinically obese, according to the CDC. A recent study indicates that the method used by the CDC underestimates obesity in women about 48% of the time, which allows us to extrapolate a clinical obesity rate for women of approximately 65%, and an overweight rate of approximately 85%.

    Would you mind explaining to me why you think this issue is important enough to bring to a blog directed at helping boys grow into good Christian men?

    Certainly. One doesn’t become fit by redefining fitness, attractive by redefining attractiveness, strong by redefining strength, manly by redefining manliness, brave by redefining courageousness, or righteous by redefining righteousness. Our very failure to measure up to these standards proves their validity and importance. Our failure to meet the ideal indicts us, and not the ideals we fall short of. Our response is not to try to debase the standard to our level, but to draw ever closer to it, recognizing our own brokenness.

  12. (with reference to the last part you just wrote then): Ok. That sounds pretty good. It should really be in your main post though. Currently it’s focus is obscured.

    However, there’s one flaw in your argument. The attractive woman is never described in the bible by her physical appearance. It’s always how hard she works or how well she looks after her children. Again, see proverbs 31. Also look here for a discussion about the ideal woman: https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Chapter-5-Ideal-Woman-among . You have therefore already redefined what is a biblically attractive woman by saying that she must not be overweight. You’ve added an extra criteria that is not biblical. It would be as if you told us that in order to be biblically manly, you must have a six-pack. It’s not right to lump the issue of beauty in with righteousness, courageousness or spiritual strength.
    Partially, this is because beauty is so subjective. In Victorian england, obesity was seen as beautiful. In parts of africa it still is. The romans liked their women quite fleshy. And I just told you that was attracted to very large women and I know there are thousands if not millions who feel the same way. So therefore you CAN, actually, redefine physical beauty. And if making an obese toy can convince just a handful of people that they are beautiful, isn’t it worth it?

  13. The attractive woman is never described in the bible by her physical appearance

    umm…

    When Abram entered Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. –Gen 12:14

    The young woman was very attractive in appearance, a maiden whom no man had known. She went down to the spring and filled her jar and came up. –Gen 24:16

    Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful in form and appearance. –Gen 29:17

    And I just told you that was attracted to very large women and I know there are thousands if not millions who feel the same way. So therefore you CAN, actually, redefine physical beauty. And if making an obese toy can convince just a handful of people that they are beautiful, isn’t it worth it?

    If I take you at your word, you are telling me that you grew up in a society that always presented slim women as attractive and fat women as unattractive, and yet you still found that you are attracted to “very large women.” If society was unable to re-wire your inherent attraction, why would you think that it would be more successful in re-wiring the inherent attraction of the majority of men who are attracted to slim, shapely women?

  14. I’ll be more clear, sorry: The appearance of a beautiful woman is rarely given in the bible, and certainly not to the extent of describing the size of her body.

    Yes, that’s correct. I’m Australian. Certainly thin is the beauty ideal here. However it’s not my intention to re-wire men into thinking slim women are attractive. It’s my intention to rewire my wife into believing that SHE is attractive. But I’m fighting an uphill battle because her mother, her school friends, the TV shows she watches and the toys she USED to play with have all convinced her that she is fat and therefore ugly (and therefore useless, lazy, ignoble, unable to be loved. Women are complicated like that). So, I support the production of an obese barbie if it means a few more girls out there can grow up believing they are attractive (valuable, respected, cherished, lovable) and embrace the fact that their husbands find them beautiful.

  15. It’s my intention to rewire my wife into believing that SHE is attractive. But I’m fighting an uphill battle because her mother, her school friends, the TV shows she watches and the toys she USED to play with have all convinced her that she is fat and therefore ugly (and therefore useless, lazy, ignoble, unable to be loved. Women are complicated like that). So, I support the production of an obese barbie if it means a few more girls out there can grow up believing they are attractive (valuable, respected, cherished, lovable) and embrace the fact that their husbands find them beautiful.

    Andrew, your answer is hidden in what you wrote. You will never be able to convince your wife she is beautiful–that is beyond your control. Women naturally judge their own beauty how much sexual interest they get from men. Not from a man, not from their husband, but from men in general. So unless you can re-wire the majority of men, that is beyond your control. Now, it is possible for her to not feel beautiful (not feel like the majority of men desire her sexually), and yet be perfectly ok with that. It requires her to care only about how much she is desired by you, and not by any others. That’s a paradigm shift that dolls simply can’t accomplish. I have known plain women who clearly knew that they weren’t desirable to the majority of men, but radiated joy because they were desired by their husbands. Your job is not only to convince her that you desire her, but also that she should care more about your desire than any amount of non-desire on the part of others–you have to convince her subconscious that you and your attraction is more important than the cumulative of all other men. Learn how to increase her attraction to you, and she will care more about your attraction to her–and less about what anyone else thinks.

    A woman that is strongly attracted to her man will change herself completely for him, will disfigure herself for him, will commit crimes for him, will do anything for him. I’ve seen in a thousand times, and I suspect you have too.

    There’s your solution. It isn’t as easy as making a different doll, but it will work a hell of a lot better.

  16. “Women naturally judge their own beauty how much sexual interest they get from men. ”
    This presumption is false. Women judge their own beauty based on a range of different factors. Sexual interest from men (should) only start at puberty or so, and that being from their classmates. A child of eight should get no sexual interest from men but I have met children of eight who think they are too fat, when they are not. My wife was taken at around the age of nine to a dietician who told her she was overweight. The dietician was female. Her mother, who took her, is female. My wife cites this as one of the earliest influences on her negative self-image. If a child of eight of good health can think she is fat it doesn’t come from sexual interest in men. It comes from advertising, from toys, from the way women are portrayed in movies and kids cartoons. Therefore changing these factors can influence young children to believe they are beautiful, and hopefully this self-confidence will lead to a more outgoing lifestyle and reduce obesity.
    Furthermore, later, in teenage years, a negative self image can come from blog posts like this that say that fat women are just too lazy to go out and get fit like they really want, or the boys who believe this. Which is why I’m discussing this with you in the first place.

    I agree that my sexual attraction to my wife should be the only thing that matters to her. But my wife is a sensitive soul. When she goes out and people criticise her for her weight on a daily basis, whether it’s her mother or just because she’s kissing me at a bus stop, it hurts her and makes her feel ugly. And this makes her feel unvalued. As a Christian man it is my job to protect the weak, and my wife is weak. It is your job too, which is why I don’t think the attitude you expressed in your post about fat women being lazy is helpful. I think it’s harmful, and I encourage you to either change it or remove it, for the sake of the weak who could be harmed by it.

  17. Andrew,

    I have been nothing but patient with you. However, your continued over-reach has crossed the line. You purposely conflate women with children in a non-sequitur attempt to say that because something is not true for children, it is also untrue for women generally. Women are not children. Children are not women.

    I can see why your wife would value the opinions of others above yours–you show her that you do as well through your actions. You have here written hundreds of words in response to the year-old written opinion of an obscure blogger you don’t even know. By your very actions you show that the opinions of random strangers matter deeply.

    If you decide that you want to improve yourself, to make yourself the only man that matters to you wife and a better man overall, a man who is unharmed by standing against the current of popular opinion, I will help you. But if you simply want to bitch about how others need to change to make you feel better, I’m done with you. I will not reply to any further comments of yours on this topic unless I see a genuine desire to change yourself rather than demanding change from others.

  18. Of course I want to change. I am continually striving for change. More on that later:
    What overreach?
    Actually, women were children. Do you not know that the self-esteem issues that start as children continue to carry over into adulthood? The women who are petitioning for a “morbidly obese Barbie” can see this. They don’t want other people to have self-image, self-esteem issues like they did. But you cannot see this because you do not understand the fragility of the human female, or the human spirit in general it seems.
    This is why I’m writing hundreds of words in response to a year-old opinion of an obscure blogger: 1) The topic is still relevant. 2) The blogger still holds the same opinion as when he wrote the post. 3) I see generations of hurt coming from you and those you teach. An ambassador for Christ should not harm. But you will. You will drive people away from Christ with your talk of laziness and your mocking (or laughing, as you put it) at people who try to redefine western beauty standards. May God rebuke you for your coldness and arrogance and instill in you a greater love for his kingdom.
    Now, sure, I do want to improve myself. And I have. My wife and I have come a LONG way since we were married several years ago. I’m willing to listen to any ‘help’ you have to offer, but I can’t imagine you, who not once has been Christlike in these discussions, can help me be more Christ like to my wife. Especially as you don’t seem to understand the root of the issue. But I think I have a fairly good filter for Christ’s word, so go ahead. Help me.
    But I am ashamed to call myself of the same name that you do. In these comments you have lied, avoided the topic and just flat out refused to acknowledge in any way that actually, you might be wrong about something. Anything. Not when I showed you statistical research that women who are shamed do not lose weight. Not ever. You have shown no humility, no love for those who are suffering about this issue. In fact it’s worse: you mock them. You have put your desire to appear “right” before considering how your words needlessly harm others. You do the very thing you accuse of: you try to change others rather than recognising that there may be something wrong within yourself. Are you so holy and pure and above reproach? Am I talking to Christ here, in his second coming? You do not worship God, the father of Jesus. Your own pride is your God. Did you even pray before writing these replies?
    As I said, I’m still happy to continue talking. If you think you can help me, go for it. But I don’t think you will. So just in case this is too much with you I leave you with this, which I hope you will recognise from proverbs 1: 7 “fools despise wisdom and instruction.” And you, it seems from your final comment, have despised every word I’ve spoken.

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