I’ve heard people say that if Barbie were real, she’d be way too underweight for her size, would have a super tiny waist and hips, be unable to walk, etc. But how do people calculate it? I mean, couldn’t she be any height, theoretically? She’s a doll–it would depend on whatever height people wanted her to be. I don’t see why she’s automatically got to be 6’ and 110 (what one website gave as her height/weight). How is this calculated?

Weight is probably determined by her bodyshape. Height? Dunno, perhaps by comparing her to other items in the Barbie universe like the Barbie car.

Assign any single measurement of the doll arbitrarily to correspond with a real human and all the rest of the length measurements follow.

The limiting practical measurement would be the waist, I suppose.

The likeliest proposed measurement would probably be the bust.

There wouldn’t be a perfect correlation with weight but you could come close.

If you have any Barbie dolls you could measure one and decide for yourself.

Found this via a Google Search. At 6’ she’d weight 101 lbs and have a 19" waist.

That’d give a BMI of 14, *seriously* underweight (18.5 to 24 is healthy)!

The point is, due to the proportions of the doll, she would be underwight and abnormally thin at any height. If you assumed she was 5’2", she would only weigh 84lbs.

I have read (no cite, sorry) that the tiny waist on the Barbie doll is not an attempt to portray some idealized notion of a woman’s shape, but due to the fact that cloth does not scale down to that size well - that the small waist allows for the bunching of cloth where shirts, pants, and skirts meet.

Not sure that is relevant to the discussion, but there it is…

Okay, that makes sense. Most places always say something like she’d be 6’ so I was just wondering where they got that to start with. Maybe it just sounds more dramatic than saying if she’d be 5’2 and 84 pounds.

Theoretically, yes (within reason). However, Barbie was designed as a fashion doll, and it’s reasonable to assume that her height would be typical of a fashion model.

From here: A study done in 2002 showed that among top editorial fashion agencies in Los Angeles and New York, 81% of their “editorial fashion” models were 5’9” and above; 15% were between 5’8” and 5’9”, and only 4% were below 5’8” tall.

So 5’10’‘-6’ tall is probably the best estimate of what her height would be as a human.

I don’t dispute any of that. And for the sake of argument, let’s say I am moved to have sympathy for the engineers and designers who have so much difficulty creating her clothing.

Despite that, my main concern is with the children who are so accustomed to these dolls that they end up with grossly incorrect opinions about a proper and healthy body shape.

Here’s another interesting factoid about children’s toys. If G. I. Joe were a man of normal height, his biceps would be 32 inches in circumference. For comparison purposes, Mark McGuire has 26 inch biceps. (Or at least he did during his steroid days.)

You could also set a scale using some of her accessories. Take her Corvette, say, and compare it to the size of the real thing.

I would think any responsible discussion of proportionality would start with the “if/then” of the calculations stated. “If she were an average woman’s height, THEN she’d have a bust size of…” or “IF she were six feet tall, THEN her waist would be…”

then it’s just a matter of ratios. If the doll were 6 inches tall, you’d assume that at six feet all measurements can just be multiplied by 12.

You can’t scale up and down based on height as a linear factor because weight is proportional to the cube of height. (That’s why giant ants would be crushed under Them’s own weight. ;)) So if you assume a 6’ woman is 101 lbs., scaled down proportionally to 5’2" she would weigh only 64.5 lbs.

However, in reality people don’t scale like that anyway. Have you ever seen a 6’ tall woman with the same proportions as a 5’2" woman?

So G. I. Joe’s biceps are twice as big as Barbie’s waist?

I used to have a friend who was a bit of an artist, and also made model dioramas. He said that when you make a miniature figure, you don’t just make it a perfect scale representation. You have to exaggerate the subtleties or they won’t be noticed at all. You make the eyes a little bigger. If you want a guy to look tired and haggard, you darken the lower half of his face to look like stubble. Not too much; that’s where the artistry comes in. If someone notices what you’ve done, the illusion is lost. Do it right and you create the impression that you’re after, even if it’s not 100% accurate.

I always thought the same thing applied to Barbie. If you want a six-inch piece of plastic to look like a woman, you have to exaggerate the curves.

Why cant they just take a base point of the size of her eyes or ear and use that to scale up?

From what I could find on the net, this Barbie Corvette is 19-20 inches long. A real Corvette C5 (which I think is what this is based on) is 179.7 inches. A standard Barbie is 11.5 inches. Doing the math, unless I screwed up my calculations, that would be anything from a 103 (8’7") to 109 inch (9’1") real-life Barbie, depending on whether that Corvette is 19 or 20 inches.

As has been mentioned already, the BBC ran an article today answering this exact question.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7920962.stm

So basically what they do is they take the actual Barbie’s measurements - height, waist, bust, etc, measured in inches - and that gives them the ratios between them. They then pick one of these variables to use as a constant and apply the ratios to determine what the other variables would be: so if you set a ‘real life Barbie’s’ waist at 28 inches, she’d be 7’6" tall. If you set her height to 5’6, she’d only have a 20 inch waist, and so on. The conclusion of the BBC’s article is that it is possible for a real life woman to have similar proportions to Barbie (they mention Bridgette Bardot as someone who had a 20 inch waist for example), but it’s very unlikely.