NOTE: I’ve updated this post to reflect the measurements of the Disney Store’s Classic dolls of the Disney Princesses, as well as those of Barbie’s new Petite and Tall Fashionista bodies. I don’t have any Curvy Fashionistas yet, but if and when I get one I’ll add those measurements in as well.
In an attempt to figure out which clothes looked best on which type of Barbie body, doll artist and former Barbie Bazaar magazine (RIP Barbie Bazaar) columnist MiKelman made a comparison of the body types to human clothing sizes in his “Wear it out!” column. In his words: “With all of the dress, head and body swapping going on in this column, let’s talk about Barbie’s body size for a moment. If the original Barbie body size (from 1959-1999) were say, a size 9, let’s imagine the slightly slimmer Shani body (which is also the Silkstone body size) to be about a size 7, and the new BB (Belly Button) body a size 5. A size reference might be helpful to you when trying to decide which dress will fit best on a particular body. For instance, many of the classic Fashion Avenue ballgowns fit the classic size 9 Barbie body best, while many of the casual dress styles offer a better fit on the slimmer Shani size 7 shape and the trendy low-rise pants tend to fit on the size 5 BB body best (MiKelman, “Wear it out!” Barbie Bazaar June 2002, pg. 74)”.
The sizes MiKelman cites appear to be from the juniors’ department, as most brands put women’s fashions in even-numbered sizes. It might be helpful to bring each of his numbers down a digit: original Barbie body goes from size 9 to size 8, etc. To extend the metaphor, I would put the Fashionista/Life in the Dreamhouse (LITD) body in the same size-4 category as the BB body and peg the even slimmer ModelMuse and Pivotal bodies as a size 2.
MiKelman’s system was meant to quickly match Barbies to the clothes that best match their body types and not to be an accurate representation of clothing sizes, but it points out another argument focused on this wildly popular 11 1/2 inch fashion doll and her body: Barbie gets a lot of flack for her unrealistic proportions, with most detractors claiming that they increase the risk of girls developing anorexia down the line. One of the most often cited examples is Anna Quindlen’s New York Times essay “Barbie at 35,” in which she claims that Barbie’s measurements, when translated into human scale, would be 40″-18″-32″. Here are the actual measurements of the different Barbie body types
ModelMuse/Pivotal: 4.83-3.17-4.67 Petite: 4.56-3.63-5.06 Tall: 5.19-4-5.38 Disney Princess (from Disney Store): 4.81-3.25-4.88
and their real-world equivalents, assuming that 11 1/2 inches of height scales up to 5’9″, as most of the Barbie Bazaar columnists did. The Petite Fashionista body is 10.75 inches tall, which scales up to 5’4.5″; and the Tall body is 12.25 inches tall, which scales up to 6’1.5″.
ModelMuse/Pivotal: 29-19-28 Petite: 27.4-21.75-30.4 Tall: 31.13-24-32.25 Disney Princess: 28.88-19.5-29.25
These real-world interpretations of Barbie’s measurements are unattainable for most women, yes, but not out of the range of plausibility for those lucky genetic freaks who are naturally very thin.
Notes: I quoted the set of measurements Ms. Quindlen cited in her essay and obtained all the other measurements by measuring my own dolls with my own measuring tape. I obtained the real-world equivalents by taking the dolls’ measurements and multiplying them by 6-the standard way of translating scale on dolls or any other miniatures-and rounding the decimals up or down as needed.