This entry is really about journalistic incompetence with respect to fact checking.
Who hasn’t seen some article or other about a former anorexic’s “life size Barbie”? Or, at least the accompanying picture of a grotesquely disproportionate Barbie towering over an average American girl? Yes, the tiny head, the super fetish XXXXXL porn star breasts, the waist smaller than most women’s thighs and the claim that if Barbie were real, she would be forced by anatomy to crawl on all fours. Aforementioned claims and picture credited to Galia Slayen. Her original article in Huffington Post is here.
If you’ve ever seen a Barbie doll, you’ll agree that the grotesque doll created by the ex-anorexic not a correct scale model. Therefore, at best, we can conclude that Slayen doesn’t understand middle school math.
With height scaled up to of 6′ from 11.5″, she claims that Barbie would have a 39″ bust, a 18″ waist and 33″ hips. This is false. The dimensions of the doll are 5-3.5-5.25, which would mean that if her height were 6′, her dimensions would be about 31-22-33. At the end of the article, Slayen attributes the 39-18-33 measurements to a book called Body Wars, but those measurements were meant to correspond to a height of 5’6″ (although they would still be inaccurate – for 5’9″, the correct scaling would be 30-21-31.5). Yes, I agree that the Barbie created by Slayen has absurd proportions, but I contend that it’s due to a calculation error compounded by her inability to differentiate 5’9″ from 6′.
Well, she is just one girl. And we all make computational mistakes. But why is it that even the New York Times uncritically repeats these incorrect calculations? This isn’t a secret source or a hard-to-verify fact. Could it be that most journalists can’t do basic math either?
It’s often called a “shocking image” – but what’s really shocking is how few people seem to question its accuracy. I’m not sure how much faith we can put into journalists who can’t even do middle school algebra.