Hamilton College student uses life-sized Barbie to teach girls about body image

A local college student is using an iconic doll to teach young girls about the dangers of eating disorders. Galia Slayen, a student at Hamilton College in Clinton, made a life-sized Barbie to show what the doll's actual proportions would be.

Slayen's doll has a 39" bust, an 18" waist, and 33 "hips. She is also a size double zero. She showed the doll to her fellow college students as part of National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.

Slayen, who has suffered from an eating disorder herself, says she wants the doll to spark a conversation about the way certain images affect young girls.

"Barbie, the way she is right now, the representation that's given to young girls, is not real," says Slayen.

She says, so far, the doll is getting a lot of attention.

"The great thing about Barbie is she really does turn heads," says Slayen. "By building the doll, it was both a personal thing and for my community to bring up these issues and to create discussion."

She says she wants young girls to learn about the importance of self-esteem and know there are resources out there to help. For example, in Central New York, Ophelia's Place provides help for people with eating disorders.

A spokesperson for Mattel, the company that makes Barbie dolls, says it's important for parents to tell their children that Barbie is just a doll and was never intended to model the proportions of a real person.

What do you think of Barbie dolls? Do you think they have an effect on young girls or they are just a doll? What can be done to help young girls develop self-esteem and a positive body image? Post your comments below.