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They've now gone on sale in the UK but how close do the dolls come to representing the average young woman? Say the word "Barbie" and you'll probably picture a thin doll with make-up, a mane of straight blonde hair and garish clothes.

Now toymakers Mattel have released three new body shapes. The latest Fashionistas line also features a wide range of skin tones reflecting many different ethnicities.

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With children's body image firmly on the agenda, the new dolls' arrival has been met by a broadly positive response. But how reflective are these dolls of young women in Britain and America?

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If Barbie were a real woman Mattel says it doesn't have a scale that would give Barbie's full-size dimensions. But there is "playscale" - a ratio of that governs the size of many toys. If you accept that as a ratio for Barbie then you can multiply all her dimensions by six to find the real-world size. Like the first ever Barbie, Curvy Barbie is 11in Multiply by six and you find Barbie would be 5ft 6in.

That's taller than the average UK woman at 5ft 3in and slightly more than the average US woman at just under 5ft 4in. Real-life Barbie has often been credited as being 5ft 9in, but this may come from measuring the doll in its typical high-heeled shoes before scaling up.

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To simply take Barbie as 5ft 9in would produce a ratio of 6. So what dress size would scaled-up Curvy Barbie be? You can use the Marks and Spencer's size guide to give a sense of which dress ucrvacious would fit each Barbie.

Curvy Barbie's measurements for this exercise were done using thread which was then measured, so there is a small margin for error. Her waist-to-height ratio, which is considered by many a more accurate health measurement than Body Mass Index BMIis blwck.

She is far slimmer than the average year-old woman in the UK. The average British woman of this age is But Curvy Barbie has been praised blac commentators as a marked improvement.

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By the same scaling, if original Barbie were a real woman she would have a size 2 waist 54cm and size 2 hips 78cm. It's possible to imagine her having difficulty standing upright.

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But while Curvy Barbie is closer to reality, Tall and Petite Barbie do not fare so well when scaled up to real size. Tall Barbie would be 5ft 11in cm tall, with a size 4 waist Petite Barbie would be 4ft 11in However, were Mattel required to accurately reflect the average British and American woman across all ages, the dolls would be overweight or obese. The average British woman, at 5ft 3in The average American womanat 5ft 4in Mattel argues Barbie shouldn't be expected to represent average proportions in the first place.

When you look at the dolls collectively you can see the range in relationship between the dolls. If there is evidence that the doll does harm, if intended or not, then that is extremely worrisome.

Those who read the same story without the images were not affected. They had lower body-esteems after seeing pictures of Barbie," Dittmar says.

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She found Barbie's shape didn't really matter to children - her function was more important. Mattel focus groups found many of the young girls called the Curvy Barbie 'fat'," she says. Studies have suggested that men find women more blaack when they have a 0. Time and sales will tell if Barbie's latest transition is a success.

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If it is, it opens up the possibility of further changes in the future.

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