America Does Not Need a Fat Barbie

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I visited the website of Body Shop founder Anita Roddick. She refers repeatedly to the Body Shop's "anti-Barbie" doll, named Ruby, a heavyweight plastic doll featured on a poster/advertisement reading, "There are three billion women in the world who don't look like supermodels and only eight who do." The implication is, of course, that this fat-Barbie archetype is somehow a healthier ideal than the bone-thin adolescents paraded on the pages of Cosmo.

Is it though? Fat is not the global norm. You know those three billion women who don't look like supermodels? Most of them don't look like Ruby either. If you get and travel through the world, you will see a lot more thin people than you do overweight ones. The truth is, most of the world can't afford to get fat. I listened to a spoken essay on NPR once in which the author asks a foreign acquaintance why he wants to move to the United States... his friend responds, "I want to live in a country w...

... middle of paper ... anatomically impossible figure. The problem is that our society -- particularly the fashion industry, the advertising industry, etc., -- have taught us to think that our things and our looks are what we need to worry about, and that important details like love and happiness will necessarily follow once we've acquired that perfect pair of Nikes. If the Body Shop wants a tubby archetype to combat our thin-obsessed society, they should make a Ruby-Buddha, not a Ruby-Barbie.

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