"Dream come true" would be an understatement.
What you are looking at is not an exercise in Photoshop, nor a tour de force of airbrushing. This really is a plastic doll that resembles Barbie, but has luscious, Classical proportions.
Have you ever seen anything so beautiful?
She possesses Barbie's blue eyes, pink lips, blonde hair, and cute round facial features. However, she also boasts an alluringly heavy bust, womanly hips, and a swell around her middle. True, her arms and legs have (unfortunately) not been sized up to plus proportions, but her body is at least a size 14W. She is utterly gorgeous.
If you are not excited enough already, just wait until you see the next image. Here is not just one, but a whole row of plus-size Barbies, still in their original packaging. The doll's foreign name would seem to indicate that this is not a product for the domestic U.S. market, but is indigenous to an overseas location. And as a matter of fact, Ciotka Kena is Polish. (Her name literally means "Ken's Aunt.") She comes in a blonde and a brunette edition, but primarily it is the fair-haired model that captivates the eye and captures the heart, because she is so very much like Barbie--or rather, Barbie as she should be.
By now you are all undoubtedly contacting Polish relatives or planning trips to Poland in order to import this gorgeous doll for yourselves. You already intend to present numerous Ciotki Kena to your friends, sisters, daughters, etc., thereby replacing your loved ones' "Anorexic Barbies" with these pretty dolls, whose facial features are every bit as cute and adorable as Barbie's, but whose voluptuous, well-fed figures embody the true ideal of feminine beauty.
Too good to be true, you say?
Ken's Aunt [was] produced in cooperation with Mattel Corporation complete with pink Barbie Doll boxes and clear plastic bubble wrapping. This "art object" was produced in an edition of 25 copies, and exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. Ken's Aunt is [a] buxom version of Barbie, made up of "Sindy" dolls and complete with [wardrobe] and a hairstyle more likely to be found in Poland than in the United States.
A number of Polish sources relay the same information--that the artist created this unique series of dolls "in cooperation with Mattel." Yet the fact (also corroborated by several sources) that the model's face is that of a Sindy doll, not a Barbie, would seem to belie this, as in 1994 Sindy was being produced by Mattel's rival, the Hasbro corporation:
Ciotka Kena / Ken's Aunt" (1994) restores a realistic dimension to the (unnaturally slim) ideal and standard of beauty promoted by Barbie doll (in reality the artist used Sindy here).
Either way, the result is the realization of one of the fondest dreams of size celebration--a plus-size Barbie. It is simply incredible to see that lovely doll's face coupled with such a sumptuously proportioned body.
The Polish write-ups about the doll (translated by yours truly) more explicitly delineate its subversive character:
Ciotka Kena . . . is a dissertaion on the theme of an already established pattern of a woman--Barbie. It is unnecessary to mention her influence on the shaping of the young female body. The "non-canonical" silhouette of the Ciotka--large bust, wide hips--shows what an unreal world the Mattel corporation creates, a world that is often the cause of complexes and unnecessary dramas. An interesting fact that comes to light is that Ciotka Kena was executed under the patronage of that very company [Mattel].
Ask yourselves: if Mattel did indeed create the mold for Ciotka Kena, the physical mold into which the doll-making plastic was poured, the mold that enabled her full-figured body to be produced in 24 units, then why, oh why, did it not employ that mold to produce an official, separate line of mass-produced dolls with precisely these proportions--just to see how the public would react?
It is highly significant that this plus-size Barbie originated in Poland, because despite the preponderance of emaciated East European girls on the world's fashion runways, the truth is that the traditional Slavonic ideal of beauty was most decidedly full-figured. Indeed, even in the Polish diaspora, second-generation Polish youth still express a preference for fleshier feminine beauty, despite growing up surrounded by postmodern cultural brainwashing.
First, Libera brought to life Ciotka Kena (1994)--a fuller-figured Barbie doll. Her full body negates the super-skinny ideal that Barbie promotes. The Barbie doll was conceived in 1959 by Ruth Handler, a co-creator of the Mattel company. In short order she became the symbol of female attractiveness (but not of femininity!), an unattainable ideal, which women nevertheless to this day attempt to attain, setting themselves up for frustration and developing serious illnesses, such as anorexia nervosa. In the Poland of the 1990s, the typical model of the hard and enterprising, career-minded "feminist business woman" that this doll [Barbie] personifies is chosen significantly more often than traditional femininity and motherhod, which is what Ciotka Kena symbolizes. "Polish motherhood" is today out of fashion.
Bingo. This writer perceptively recognizes the real force behind the imposition of the androgynous standard in modern culture. For all that the feminists decry Mattel's Barbie, she is, at least in her figure (or lack thereof), an implement of the masculinization of women, of the physical erasure of their essentially womanly characteristics (hips, bust, and extra weight)--the very features that identify them indisputably as women, and which are oriented around their innate purpose and identity: motherhood.
It is not coincidental that this plus-size Barbie prominently exhibits the physical attributes that most distinctively identify a woman as a mother-to-be, that distinguish her as a well-fed young girl ripe and ready for procreation. Libera's doll restores this Classical ideal, which also happens to be the traditional Slavonic ideal of beauty ("Polish motherhood"), and shows what Poland lost as its Old World culture was overwritten by Madison Avenue after the fall of the Berlin Wall.
At any rate, this Polish plus-size Barbie is a remarkable near-fulfillment of the aesthetic restoration, and a glimpse of what our world could be like and should be like. Just as we all dream of a world where plus-size models instead of androgynous waifs grace every magazine cover and walk every runway, and where full-figured ingénues are the romantic leads in every Hollywood movie, so can we now envision what our world would look like if girls' dolls likewise embodied the timeless ideal.
Looking at a row of these voluptuous plastic vixens is like seeing an array of Aphrodites, as if the sculptor of the Venus de Medici had been reincarnated in our own time and had realized his aesthetic vision in plastic rather than in marble. This demonstrates how Classical beauty could be disseminated throughout society, how even a much-maligned phenomenon such as "mass production" could benefit our culture, by combating eating disorders instead of propagating them, and by promoting essential gender identity rather than attempting to corrupt it.
Re: Plus-Size Barbie
Oh, goodness, I'm so torn as to whether I prefer Ciotka Kena or the Body Shop's "Ruby" (who was as mentioned in the post) as my favourite plus-size Barbie.
On the one hand, I love the fact that Ruby has gorgeously full thighs and legs to go along with her luscious figure. It's a pity that Ciotka Kena lacks those attributes. Plus, Ruby has the more lavishly alluring hairstyle. And I've always adored how she was pictured in her famous Body Shop image -- lounging sensually on a sofa. As many have said on this forum, there is nothing more seductive than seeing a full-figured goddess in a state of indolent repose, luxuriating in her own well-fed beauty.
I found a second image of Ruby that the Body Shop released with this campaign. The sofa graphic, above, was a computer image, not an actual plastic model, but this might have been a physical sculpture of a real-life doll. I adore how she's thrusting her hands into her tresses, letting everyone look at her gorgeous physique. Plus, this image shows that she has full upper arms.
On the other hand, what's fantastic about Ciotka Kena is that she more closely resembles the iconic image of Barbie, with her blonde hair and blue eyes. She truly is a "plus-size Barbie." And somehow, seeing 24 units of her, not just one, arranged in a row just as she would be displayed on a store shelf if she were a real mass-market toy available for purchase, makes her seem that much more real, and believable, and possible.
Ideally, I would love to see both dolls become genuine products available for girls to buy. They could be part of a whole line of plus-size dolls, one the blonde Ciotka Kena, another the red-haired Ruby, and several others.
In fact, why not six more, making a total of eight in this line? The Body Shop tag line reads,
I have no doubt that if there were a line of 8 plus-size Barbies like these, girls would love them, and would prefer them to any stick-thin versions. And they'd grow up with a much better body image as a result.
Re: Plus-Size Barbie
In the early '90s there was a doll called "Happy To Be Me." She didn't sell very well, but she was nowhere near as gorgeous as Ciotka!
Re: Plus-Size Barbie
Ciotka Kena is very beautiful. Someone should do a magazine editorial with Kelsey Olson or Shannon Marie or Katherine Roll or Justine Legault having them embody a brought-to-life Barbie. It would be a fun, colourful editorial. The trick would be to do it straight, not tongue-in-cheek; playfully, but not sarcastically; enjoying the delicious girlishness of a Barbie aesthetic, but using it to celebrate plus-size beauty.
By the way, I read something interesting about the Body Shop's splendid "Ruby" campaign and why it ended so abruptly. According to this brand-new article,
it ended because Mattel opposed it legally:
That absolutely amazes me. Ruby had red hair, not blonde, and possessed a gorgeously full figure, not a stick-thin frame. How could Mattel have won any lawsuit claiming that the doll resembled Barbie? Just about any other doll on the market resembles Barbie more than Ruby did! Does Mattel own the copyright on the concept of a "doll"? I doubt it.
What a pity. I wish the Body Shop campaign had continued to the point where the company had actually produced such a doll in real life and sold it. I would have eagerly bought one for myself, and bought more for all my relatives' daughters.
Re: Plus-Size Barbie
I feel a little sad that this doll was not available when I was a little girl. I had quite a few Barbies.
Side note, my younger sister actually had a Cindy (Sindy?) doll and if I remember correctly, even though the doll was thin, she seemed a little "heathier" and robust looking than my Barbie dolls did. In any case the Ciotka Kena doll is beautiful.
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