"Plus-size" models (or any models above the super-skinny norm, for that matter) serve a dual purpose: They showcase plus-size clothing for a growing market and they also provide women with a more diverse range of bodies to look up to.
So if we have plus-size women modeling clothes, why not have plus-size Barbies? That's the question posed recently by Plus-Size-Modeling.com on Facebook, when the group posted an illustration of a plus-size Barbie-like doll.
The image actually comes from an illustration contest on Worth1000.com, a site where artists compete in daily creative competitions. The Barbie image, created by artist bakalia, won a 2011 contest called "Feeding Time 9."
The debate mirrors one currently being waged in the fashion world. When lingerie store Curvy Girl kicked off a campaign to share images of "regular" women in lingerie, several of whom are overweight, the campaign was criticized for supposedly encouraging unhealthy habits and promoting obesity.
There were also those who wondered aloud where the "average" size bodies were -- meaning, bodies that are neither "plus-size" nor a size zero. As one commenter noted under the Barbie image on Plus-Size-Modeling.com, "Wish there was an 'average' Barbie. Not skinny, not obese. Normal proportions."
Actually, someone has already made one. Artist Nickolay Lamm of MyDeals.com recently created a 3-D model of an "average" Barbie-like doll, based on CDC measurements of an average 19-year-old woman. The result stood in marked contrast to what Barbies are currently made to look like.
"If we criticize skinny models, we should at least be open to the possibility that Barbie may negatively influence young girls as well," Lamm said in an email to the Huffington Post.
It's a point well taken -- but exactly what size (or sizes) that Barbie should come in is clearly still up for debate.