Ruby the Fat Barbie
Back in 1998, The Body Shop rolled out a new add campaign that was intended to promote better self-image among women. All across the world The Body Shop put up posters showing a pleasantly plump Barbie-style doll named Ruby along with the slogan “There are 3 billion women who don’t look like supermodels, and only 8 who do.”
Although real women everywhere seemed to love Ruby, there were some protesters. You can read the whole story here, but this is what one The Body Shop executive has to say,
In the United States, the toy company Mattel sent us a cease-and-desist order, demanding we pull the images of Ruby from American shop windows. Their reason: Ruby was making Barbie look bad, presumably by mocking the plastic twig-like bestseller (Barbie dolls sell at a rate of two per second; it’s hard to see how our Ruby could have done any meaningful damage.) I was ecstatic that Mattel thought Ruby was insulting to Barbie — the idea of one inanimate piece of molded plastic hurting another’s feelings was absolutely mind-blowing.
This is absurd. A doll with anatomically correct (or at least possible) proportions is being pulled from advertizing because it’s making Barbie “look bad” – or maybe it’s just making Barbie look unrealistic, which she is. According to another blogger “one shop in the US was forced to take down a Ruby poster after a mall patron said his daughter had been traumatized by seeing it”. And does his daughter play with Barbies? Probably. And she’s not ‘traumatized’ by handling a doll with an impossible figure who would have to walk on all fours if she was a real person? I guess not. So, long story short, it’s OK to socialize our children to the idea that they should be tall, blonde, and exceedingly thin, but when we try to show them images of what real women look like, we’re traumatizing them.
As the same blogger mentioned above points out, Ruby looks a lot like the female nudes in classical painting. I’d rather be a Greek goddess than a Barbie any day.
Now that’s a real woman.