The Dark Side of Barbie

Jan 22, 2011 36 comments

Photographer Mariel Clayton explorers the evil and hitherto unknown side of the famous doll character. When asked why she did it, Clayton explains: ‘Because I hate Barbie. I intensely dislike the stereotype that the “ideal” female fits no current authentic female form. You can’t get to be Barbie without an ocean’s worth of peroxide, 27 plastic surgeries and a complete lack of intelligence, so it irritates me immensely that this is the toy of choice women give to their daughters to emulate. Behind the vacuous perpetual lipsticked-smile lurks the black heart of the true sociopath, just like in real life’.














[via Lost At E Minor]


  1. Okay so you consider this to be a better female role? :D I always find it funny when people criticize Barbie's "intelligence". She has a empty vinyl head, what you put into it is up to you and nobody else. Also her hobbies, values and what she smiles about is up to you.

    As far as her hair colour goes... I always felt sorry for poor Barbie being blonde, but you can't choose your hair colour, can you? If she could have chosen, certainly she'd be a brunette! Then again, I'm Finnish where being blond is the norm.

    And her figure... It's not that bad. She has long legs and that's about the only thing that is completely unrealistic, but do you really try to be like a doll physically?! Seriously, how stupid do you have to be to compare yourself to the physique of a DOLL?!

    But the photos are cool though. Just the anti-barbie stuff is getting really old.

  2. I suspect the artist/photographer does not feel pretty enough. Also, she says to be Barbie a woman has to have "a complete lack of intelligence". However, I don't think that one rings true. Hasn't Barbie been sold in various career options, like Doctor Barbie, Veterinarian Barbie, etc? Indeed, I think the art reveals quite a bot about the artist.

  3. I've disliked Barbie ever since I was a little girl. It wasn't because I measured myself against a vinyl doll and felt myself lacking; rather, her limited posing was frustrating (especially the high-heeled feet, which made it impossible for her to stand on her own), the "diamond" ring* on her hand always seemed to fall off within a few hours of vigorous playtime, and, yes, I found her blinding smile a little creepy. Plus, I just flat-out preferred My Little Ponies, Care Bears, and Cabbage Patch Kids to the plastic fashionista.

    However, I DID love brushing her hair, and watching commercials about her. Teacher Barbie, Auntie Barbie, Astronaut Barbie, Belle of the Ball Barbie... yeah, the commercials made her look pretty darn awesome. It just never translated quite the same in real life.

    My five-year-old niece has Barbies, and I don't think it's going to ruin her psychologically to play with them. Barbie is what she is.

    *Maybe it was just the Barbies my parents bought for me, but ALL of them seemed to have a fake diamond in their hands. And, without fail, the fake diamond would go bye-bye, leaving an unsightly hole in her hand. Perhaps if I'd had more imagination as a little one, and passed off the hole as a battle scar or physical defect or a sign of her extraterrestrial heritage, I could have gotten more enjoyment out of playing with the dolls...

  4. This is disturbing. One or 2 images I can understand. This person is disturbed.

  5. There's stuff I don't like about barbie, but I do worry about the anti-barbie stuff for my kids. They happen to be blonde and blue eyed and tall, so if they are healthy and active, they'll be thin-ish and I hope they smile a lot. I don't like them getting images that what they look like is bad, and these displays really exemplify that.

    Otherwise I get it.

  6. This art is freaking awesome! That said, the woman's reasoning behind why she did it is completely absurd.

    A. Whether you people want to admit it or not, there are girls who actually look like this.

    B. Who wants to play with an ugly doll?

    C. Get over yourself. As a male, I'm completely fine with the fact that the "perfect" male is supposed to have a six pack and be 6'0" tall. Why should we not all strive to be in good shape?

    Don't hate on fit people just because you're fat. And if you can't help it, then just learn to love yourself.

  7. This is kinda hot.

  8. This person is clearly disturbed, as someone above said. I played with Barbies as a kid. Does that mean I ever thought my parents gave me Barbies so I would "emulate" them as a role model? No. I'M blonde, and I'm certainly smart enough to understand Barbie is make believe. I don't think my parents let me play with Barbie so I'd emulate her any more than I think they let me watch My Little Pony so I'd try to be a magic horse.

  9. I think this is creative and interesting! I always like when artists push social boundaries and make me feel just a little bit weird. Art for Art's sake right? LOVE IT! Congratulations on an installment very well done.

  10. Wow, this person is not "clearly disturbed;" rather, some commenters seem to make grand assumptions about the photographer based on how the art makes them feel.

    Not very insightful assumptions either.

  11. How bitter can you get abut life? I did things like this when I was 15 and then I grew out of it.

  12. Why do people who don't like an extreme statement that is remotely feminist always assume the person in question must be physically unattractive and filled with jealousy and bitterness toward people who fit society's standards of beauty? That is making the assumption that everyone is as vapid and superficial as they are. And by making this statement, I know there are those who make that assumption about me. And those people can all go suck Rush Limbaugh's dick, as they sound just like him. Eventually, as age catches up with them, they will probably look like him, too. And I know this will chew at their narcissistic, hollow souls. So, assume all you like, it doesn't bother me, and I doubt it bothers the artist, either.

  13. All these "Images" are very graphic and disturbing ...possibly, the photographer watched too much of "Dexter", or even worth...

    1. Or they're creative and like to make prudes like you uncomfortable

    2. Hey, Anonymous 2, don’t make Anonymous 1 feel bad just because he/she has a different idea of what’s disturbing than you.

  14. This person is not "clearly disturbed" but has a great sense of humour. Great job! My only peeve is with the repetitiousness of subject matter: come on, there are many other things besides beheading that could be done, and I hope the artist explores them in her future work@

  15. Jealous of Barbie? Hardly.

    If Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5'9" tall, have a 39" bust, an 18" waist, 33" hips and a size 3 shoe.
    • Barbie calls this a "full figure" and likes her weight at 110 lbs.
    • At 5'9" tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
    • If Barbie was a real woman, she'd have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
    • Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled "How to Lose Weight" with directions inside stating simply "Don't eat."

    I suspect that most moms would prefer that their little girls not define these proportions as "healthy."


    1. That's why it's a freaking doll. If your child looks up to a doll you have bigger problems.

  16. I've stumbled across her Flickr page a time or two, and her dislike never came thru. Funny she dislikes her so much, yet she sure has put a lot of time and money into a product she "dislikes" It really gets old that people attribute so much to a doll. I suspect the artist has issues, and Barbie is therapy and a jail deterent! Cause like chaaa these are fascinatingly disturbing anddoes not reflect Barbie so much as the artist dark side! Anyone notice that the main focus of these diorama is usually KEN being dismembered?!

  17. The tub scene was actually pretty well done. Though I've never seen a Barbie dildo before.

  18. This reminds me of the camp decoration at Barbie Death Camp and Wine Bistro camp at Burning Man. Google it and see : ).

  19. I think it's pretty funny to call something sociopathic and then spend hours creating these images. That said, I absolutely loved the scenes you staged. But I'll agree with other commentators that the "Barbie sucks" thing is old and overplayed. As an artist you can muse over the irony of seeing pristine Barbie in these shocking situations, without playing the "Barbie scars girls for life" card.

  20. mmmm...but it is okay to promote brutal violence?

  21. It's fun to see Ken's head floating in the bathtub, but I've never agreed with the the anti-Barbie thing.

    She says she hates Barbie because no one can be her without "an ocean's worth of peroxide..." Actually, if you use that much peroxide, I think you'd be bald. Is she suggesting natural blondes don't exist? Some do. Anyone else can use the normal amount of peroxide. Assuming you even want to be blonde. People dye their hair other colors, too.

    And "27 plastic surgeries..." That's a rather arbitrary number. It can't apply to everyone since we are all born with different features. It also ignores the fact that you may need zero plastic surgeries if you happened to have high estrogen levels during puberty, which would tend to give you big eyes, high cheekbones, and full lips.

    As for the body, this idea that being fit is "impossible" is a dangerous message to send in a society where 68% are overweight, heart attacks are the number one cause of death, and we have the lowest life expectancy of any advanced country.

    Some people like to say that Barbie's proportions are physically impossible, that she has something like a 40-inch bust and 18-inch waist, but I have a collector's edition Barbie right here and I call bullshit on that idea. One of these days, when I have a tape measure handy, I'll tell you exactly what her proportions are. But, just looking at it, her proportions look more ideal than average, but not impossible. Do you know how weird she would look if her measurements were what people have said? I bet it's one of those things no one ever bothered to check (like the myth of overweight Marilyn Monroe that's been recently debunked).

    Or the "...complete lack of intelligence" I never understood how people could attribute certain personality traits or intelligence or lack of to Barbie. She's a doll. She has whatever personality you give her. If your Barbie is dumb, you probably are too.

    And that was the point of Barbie, not to be emulated, but to give girls something to act out. When Ruth Handler invented Barbie in the 50's, it was because until then the only dolls available were of babies and children. She could see that little girls had a psychological need to act out their adult lives. (She saw her daughter and her friends often try to do this with paper dolls.). Barbie was actually ahead of her time when female icons tended to be June Cleaver types.

  22. What's with the "Death of Marat" reference in bad-barbie12?

  23. Umm...not so realistic as you might think. It's pretty much a 1 in 100,000. And one of the women who has been trying to attain the Barbie looks has had 20 surgeries already.

    I played with Barbies when I was a kid, but come on. She used to look pretty freakish. Since they've changed her dimensions a bit, she does look a lot better though.
    Also, she wasn't talking about the fact that Barbie is blue-eyed, blonde and tall. It's pretty obvious she specifically meant her body type which would be abnormal looking in real life. Still not as bad as the Bratz dolls though.
    These pictures are awesome.

  24. These photos are brilliant. They look completely natural which is truly a feat of achievement and the attention to detail is fantastic. particularly like the one where it looks like ken got shot cos he left the loo seat up again lol.
    says a lot about the erronous concept that beauty is more than skin deep. Love it.

  25. I hated that bitch Barbie as a child too. I set them on fire. Played with Micro Machines, Care Bears, My Little Ponies, my Cabbage Patch Doll, my Garbage Pail Kids and my Dump truck. Her actual height would be 7'2" with D cup breasts and a 22" waist.

  26. O-M-G!!!!!!!! Barbie... Ken..... what happened??!!

  27. These are amazing. Extremely creative.

  28. Ummm... Ok, I don't have a problem with the art. I happen to like gory stuff, up to some point.
    But I also like Barbie. I used to play with Barbies as a kid and now I love the collectible ones. It never crossed my head to become like her. I'm brunette and I don't want to be blonde; I'm naturally curvy and I don't want to be skinny.
    Blaming a doll for everything that's wrong about society's opinions on women is... I don't know, pathetic? It's society that makes us hate or love ourselves, not a simple toy.

  29. It's obvious that children should only be allowed to play with amorphous material like play doh, but NO shapes or bright colors because that could make someone very insecure. I played with G.I. Joes growing up and became an anti-war activist not a soldier. This is an amusing installation, but the motives behind it are childish.

  30. I think its hilarious why take i so serious when its, in fact funny. You've got no sense of humor if your acting all serious about her work. Its not meant to be taking seriously its dark humor, its art at the end of the day. Now she says she hated barbie but i thought she had a hatred to men, because she might have been raped. In one of her other art pieces she's mocking rape and there is some comments about it. Obviously she isn't going to say but i think she has a sheer hatred towards men and possibly she was raped I am sorry you can't help but laugh at her work in some weird dark sense of humor.


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