Making Barbie

The pursuit of the perfect or idealized female appearance is not a realistic goal for any woman, regardless of what plastic surgery has to offer. Improving your own body through diet and exercise, and perhaps a little plastic surgery if desired, is a more common sense approach. Women should only want to have a pleasing face and good body proportions that fall within what their natural genetics will allow.

The Barbie doll, introduced in 1959 and celebrating her 50th birthday in 2009, has always been a controversial figure when it comes to body image. One of the most common criticisms of the doll is that it promotes an unrealistic or unattainable body image for young women to try and emulate. Based on her 1/6 scale at a height of just under 12 inches, she would be the equivalent of 5’ 9” with a weight of 110 lbs with measurements of 36-18-33. Technically at these dimensions she would have a body mass index of around 16 which would classify her as anorexic.

While the Barbie look is not one young women should really admire, it is perhaps interesting to know what plastic surgery procedures one would have to go through to achieve it. In the October issue of O magazine, former model Katie Halchishick served herself up as a example of what she would have to do to achieve Barbie proportions. Posing for a photographer, she used her body to diagram out what she would surgically have to do to change her features to achieve the equivalent of Barbie’s proportions and shape.

Based on this photographic diagraming, it was shown that she would need facial plastic surgery consisting of a browlift, jawline reduction and thinning, nose reshaping, neck contouring and a chin augmentation. For her body she would need a breast lift, upper arm thinning by liposuction and a tummy tuck…and that is for just above the waist. And it was not like this former model didn’t have an attractive face and body to start with.

While this is an entertaining and even humorous bit of photographic morphing, it does actually have a serious message. Trying to have so called ideal body proportions, or even an unrealistic body shape like that of Barbie, is not a healthy pursuit…even if plastic surgery could make it possible. On a more common request, trying to look like a certain model or entertainer is equally unrealistic. Plastic surgery should be used to enhance the face and body shape that women already have rather than pursuing excessive surgery to try and achieve what one isn’t meant to be. This is a healthy and psychologically balanced approach to plastic surgery that many teenage and younger women would be advised to follow.

Dr. Barry Eppley

Indianapolis, Indiana