Barbie in Real Life

I’ve just come across this really interesting article in the Daily Mail. With the title ‘Bones so frail it would be impossible to walk and room for only half a liver: Shocking research reveals what life would be like if a REAL woman had Barbie’s body’ I was instantly intrigued.

The story talks you through what a Barbie doll would actually look like if it were scaled up into human proportions. The results are completely alien-like and very unrealistic, so basically Mattell’s visions of creating the ‘perfect woman’ have been squashed. There are a number of graphs and charts that compare the sizes to the US average as seen below.



The graphs released by, a site for locating mental health treatment centres in the U.S., aims to point out the outrageous physical characteristics of a doll seen for more than 50 years as a role model for girls.’

Although this doesn’t relate directly to my project which is primarily based around aesthetic cosmetic surgery, it is undoubtably interesting. I admittedly have been getting a little lost in the Barbie side of things, I need to concentrate more on what my outcome is aimed at.


Developing the Packaging

To begin I decided that I needed to find a font similar to the text used in the Barbie logo, I found a number of different ones but decided to opt for ‘Barbie MediumItallic’. I have experimented with this font using Illustrator, compared it to the original and it’s safe to say that they are identical.

The height of the average Barbie doll is around 12inch, I have checked and mine are the same, I also took a measurement of the widest part (hand to hand when arms are down) which was 4inch this was an important step so that I can establish what size my packaging needs to be.

I do not want too much excess room in the box itself as their is no need for this and therefore I feel that as long as there is an extra inch each way it will keep the design looking neat but will allow enough room to be easily accessible.

The packaging – 13inch height, 5inch width, 4 inch depth


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Breast Implant Complications

Top cosmetic surgery procedures 2013

With breast augmentation being the most common procedure amongst woman with 11,123 operations completed in 2013 it only seems natural to reflect this in my design. According to the BAAPS last year saw a 13% rise in woman having breast enlargement surgery in the UK. These stats are extremely high and there is no doubt that some will have encountered complications and so I am intrigued to find out what they may have had to deal with.


‘A rupture is a split that occurs in the implant’s casing. A rupture can be caused if:

  • the implant’s shell (which holds the silicone or saline) gets weaker over time
  • the implant is damaged during the operation
  • there is a flaw in the implant
  • the breast is injured

When implants were first developed, they had very thin walls and rupturing was a common problem. However, modern implants that have been used in the UK since the 1990s rupture much less frequently.

If your implant ruptures, it is recommended that you should have it removed and replaced with a new one.

If you have a saline (salt water) implant, any leakage from the implant should not cause you problems. As saline is a sterile, salt water solution, your body is able to safely absorb it. However, if you have silicone implants, the silicone that leaks out of a ruptured implant may cause problems, such as siliconomas or a gel bleed (see below). You may be expected to pay for any special investigations needed to confirm a suspected implant rupture.’

Infection and Bleeding

‘Following breast implant surgery, infection and bleeding are relatively rare, occurring in less than 1% of cases. Internal bleeding is also unusual.

However, if you are having an implant fitted for breast reconstruction following a mastectomy (breast removal) you may have a greater risk of infection and bleeding.

Most infections can be treated using antibiotics. However, if your breast becomes severely infected, you may need to have the implant removed to prevent further complications developing. You should be able to have the implant re-inserted after the infection has cleared up.

However, it is important that the implant is not re-inserted too soon, as this can increase the risk of infection. Waiting a minimum of three months after the implant was removed is usually recommended.

Some research suggests your risk of infection and bleeding may be increased if you smoke, because your wounds will take longer to heal. The British Association of Plastic Reconstructive and Aesthetic Surgeons (BAPRAS) recommend you do not smoke before your operation in order to reduce the risk of developing complications.’


‘If you have a silicone breast implant that ruptures, the silicone may spread outside of the scar capsule and into your breast. This can lead to small lumps developing that are known as siliconomas.

Siliconomas can be tender to touch and if they are causing significant pain they may need to be removed. In rare cases, the silicone can spread to the muscles under your breast, your lymph nodes (glands) under your armpit or around the nerves to your arm.’

Gel Bleed

‘Gel bleed occurs to some degree in all breast implants, and has recently been a problem with PIP breast implants.

It is where small molecules of silicone polymer separate from the surface of the implant and are taken up into the surrounding tissues or lymphatic system (the network of vessels that help the body fight infection and are found in several places around the body, including in the armpit).

If the silicone molecules get into the lymphatic system, they may cause your lymph nodes (glands) to become slightly swollen. This is usually a minor problem, although in some cases the enlarged lymph nodes can become uncomfortable.’

Silicone Implant Safety

‘In recent years, the safety of silicone breast implants has been debated. A small number of women have reported serious complications following silicone gel breast implant surgery. These complications include:

  • muscle spasm and pain
  • swollen and painful joints
  • rashes
  • changes in eye and saliva fluid
  • hair loss

It was thought these complications occurred as a result of silicone gel leakage that spread to other parts of the body.

In response to these concerns, the Department of Health set up an independent review group to investigate the safety of silicone implants. The group found no scientific evidence to support the relationship between silicone implants and illness in women.’


Above are just some of the dangers that the NHS have listed on their website, however there are so many more. It’s obviously not the safest of operations so why do patients and doctors alike treat it so lightly? It seems to me that there are great risks connected to having a ‘boob job’, and even though the information is out there I’m not sure that everyone considering the dangers as much as they should.

On looking further into problems patients have found, I came across this headline ‘Botched surgery leaves woman with uniboob’. The victim was a 40 year old woman from the US who has had this operation several times and was going under the knife again for some routine maintenance, unfortunately this is what she was left with.

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Infection, Scaring and Death

Top 10 Risks of having Cosmetic Surgery according to MSN Arabia.

’1. Scarring: Scarring is an issue and whilst every effort is made to minimise them they do still occur. This is more of a problem with ethnic minorities who, because of their darker skins are prone to thicker, raised scars or ‘keloid’ scars.

2. Health Status: If you are in less than perfect health then there will be increased risks during surgery. If you have a history of heart disease or are overweight then you are at a greater risk of complications from a general anaesthetic. These complications can take the form of a stroke due to raised blood pressure or an abnormal heart rhythm. However, these are still rare.

3. Infection: The risk of infection after cosmetic surgery is less than 1% and antibiotics reduce this risk dramatically. However, if infection does occur, it is very serious. People who smoke, take steroids or have certain vascular conditions are at greater risk. The longer your surgery lasts and the more blood you lose, the more likely you are to have an infection.

4. Excessive or unexpected bleeding (hemorrhage or hematoma):  Bleeding is pretty regular phenomenon for few hours following surgery and can sometimes results into complications. Blood clotting and its accumulation under the skin can result in a condition called hematoma which will be firm in appearance and feel, and the color of overlaying skin may change to blue or purple. The area experiences a characteristic pains but pain gets reduced gradually once our body’s’ own anti clotting mechanism starts addressing the specific area and reabsorbs the accumulated blood.

5. Necrosis: It is a death of tissues due to insufficient supply of oxygen to the operated area. The risk is very rare in normal cosmetic surgeries but in plastic surgeries involving face lifts, breast reductions, tummy tucks, there is a possibility of Necrosis. It increases with sudden inflammation. Smokers are very prone to this possibility as blood vessel constriction and relatively less oxygen supply. It is generally treated in early stages by hyperbaric oxygen therapy.

6. Anaesthesia risks: (including shock, respiratory failure, drug or allergic reactions, cardiac arrest, coma, death)- risks due to use of anaesthesia are very rare but nevertheless its hazards if occur are still there. The risks depend on the factors like healthiness and seriousness of surgery. Nausea is a common feature. Sore throat is also commonly experienced risk. The total risk factor of this type is generally very rare.

7. Paralysis or less severe nerve damage: In very rare, extreme cases nerve damage can occur characterised by numbness and tingling sensation. Generally the nerve damage can last not more than 1 year. Weakness or paralysis of certain muscles may be experienced if a nerve related to muscle movement is impaired. It can be treated with reconstructive surgery.

8. Unhealthy personal habits: Cigarette smoking is our biggest enemy. In face and neck lifting particularly, where large areas of skin are shifted from one location to another, the patient carries great risks for skin breakdown, lack of healing, infection and scarring if they continue to smoke at the time of surgery. Also, depending on the procedure, the smoking may add only a minor risk. However, if a patient has significant liver dysfunction, perhaps because of a long history of drinking or drug ingestion, then it is no-go for anaesthesia.

9. Need for secondary surgeries/dissatisfaction with results: Not every surgery is successful, and unlike most ‘medically necessary’ surgery, the success of plastic surgery is quite subjective. Unsatisfactory aesthetic results (including contour irregularities, asymmetry, excessive or unfavourable scarring, etc.) can be disheartening or even devastating for some patients. Worse yet, the unluckiest of patients can be left with persistent pain, damage to vital tissues, or even nerve damage/localised paralysis.

10. Psychological and Social risk: The potential adverse psychological and social effects of plastic surgery have a lot to do with a patient’s pre-op expectations, and his or her pre-op mental and emotional state. It’s important to understand that while plastic surgery can bring positive rewards, it will not change your life, your problems, or your relationships. It is also important to understand that there is no such thing as physical ‘perfection’.’


These are just some of the complications that can come from having this kind of surgery but there are a number of cases where the patient has suffered greatly, for example losing hands and arms, some of these unfortunate people have even died as a result of unsuccessful procedures.

I am not one to usually buy glossy mags but since doing this project I have bought a number of different ones that have featured cosmetic surgery in both a good and bad light. One magazine ‘Reveal’ featured an article about Kim Kardashian who has spent thousands on numerous operations to enhance her behind. The article did not praise the celebrity but almost took the mick out of her.

The two page spread had a small section at the end that featured normal people who have has this surgery, one woman lost became an amputee as a result. I have searched this story on the internet and it turns out it has been covered by a number of different sources.

The victim April Brown went to a back alley surgery to see an unlicensed practitioner where she received injections into her buttocks. The woman suffered life threatening infections after she had the silicone implants to ‘improve’ her appearance. Of course it is easy to say that it’s her own fault for going to such a place and not one that is well established and licensed but there a thousands of cases where people have had this and worse happen when they have had these operations done by some-what successful doctors.

Infection seems to be a very common problem that arises after any surgery, so how could I portray this in a doll?

Existing Packaging

Before I can move any further and begin repackaging my dolls I need to take a look at the existing Barbie boxes so that I can get an idea of their design as I intend on recreating the common features in my own this is a vital part of my journey.

Below are a few images of a wide range of the Barbie and friends collection dolls. It’s clear to see that every box, even the males are coloured in shocking pink, of course this makes sense, they’re aimed at young girls and it really grabs your attention. The almost sickly colour instantly draws your eyes to the product, which is something that I want to do. The name of the character is often shown in white meaning that this really stands out against the rest of the packaging and the type is bold, large and very feminine. Each doll has a different name, for example ‘Great Shaper Barbie’ and ‘Angel Face Barbie’, by doing this Mattel give each and everyone a new personality and appeal, this is something that I will adapt to give my dolls new personas that relate to dangers in cosmetic surgery.

All of the boxes are of a simple rectangular shape, which should be easy to recreate. Each of the more modern boxes includes is a clear ‘window’ exposing the contents of each package allowing the consumer to see instantly what the product has to offer.



Common Features:

- Vibrant Colours

- Large clear product name

- Clear window

- Personalised name

This has given me a better idea of what the existing packaging looks like. I can begin to design my own adapted design that relate to the dolls that I will exhibit.

I will now look at some dangers and problems that can come from having cosmetic surgery. This will aid me in renaming my manipulated dolls.


Cosmetic Surgery and Teenagers

I came across an article that the British Association of Aesthetic Cosmetic Surgeons has shared on their facebook. Titled ‘Cosmetic Surgery and Teenagers – A Disaster Waiting to Happen’ the Guardian describes the governments lack of regularisation when it comes to plastic surgery, leaving the public in a dangerous position. The age limit of having cosmetic surgery is a grey area, you must be 18 but under that it is allowed with parental consent, however there is evidence to suggest that many practises will carry out operations without asking for proof of age.

‘Born into the sexualised womanhood of Girl Power, the millennials have come of age in a society increasingly inured to the exploits of the surgery-enhanced reality TV stars. Leah Totton, the Apprentice winner who used Alan Sugar’s money to set up cosmetic skin care clinics this year, says she has had to put a blanket ban on procedures for under-18s after one 14-year-old girl came into the clinic with her mother and asked for Botox.

In April last year, a report by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh found that 41% of girls aged seven to 10 and 63% aged 11 to 16 said they felt some pressure to look the way celebrities do. Suggesting that surgery had become “normalised” in pursuit of a “designer” body, hHe called for tougher controls over who can offer treatments and how they can be marketed. The government ignored him.‘ (source:

This information is truly shocking, there is no doubt that the sexualised world we live in full of airbrushing and cosmetic procedures is effecting young children. It’s an upsetting thought, girls at the age of seven should be enjoying their youth and not worrying about their appearance. I strongly believe that something should be done to protect underage girls and boys alike.

The fact that the Department of Health are so lax on this issue is beyond me. It is technically legal to sell and buy things such as dermal fillers over the internet, and of course these can come from anywhere and go to anyone. In recent years I have seen a number of things on T.V and in magazines that tell the story of someone who has put themselves in a terrifying situation and bought these products, the consequences were devastating. The ignorance of the government is unacceptable, it appears that everyone including large companies and the British Association of Aesthetic Cosmetic Surgeons are aware of the problem that the UK and western world have with the effect of the media has on a childs perception of beauty, but still they are being ignored.

The Dove Self Esteem Fund is a great example of a huge international company that is trying to tackle the problems in modern day society. They have created a series of videos that relate to self-esteem, perceptions and cosmetic surgery, often relating to young girls. These videos are quite hard hitting and powerful.

A dove film – Girls self-esteem

A dove film – Beauty Pressure http://

The beauty pressure commercial hits the nail on the head. It sums up my entire project. It’s one of the most powerful adverts that I have ever seen. The message ‘talk you your daughter before the beauty industry does’ is something that relates directly to what I want my outcome to say/achieve.


Final Idea


My final idea is to repackage mutilated Barbie dolls to highlight the dangers of aesthetic cosmetic surgery. I intend for the packaging to be very similar to the original ones used by the company themselves, this way it will appear friendly and familiar to the viewer, which should hopefully mean that the message will be hidden at first, it wont be until closer inspection that the viewer will realise the hard hitting and provocative meaning that the design has.


I already experimented earlier in this project with changing a dolls appearance to visualise the dangers of plastic surgery. This initial trial gave me the inspiration to develop it into a final design. I felt that the striking, unnerving look the Barbie now has really succeeded in trying to shock the audience, I just now need to think of other dangers that I can visualise in a very similar way to create a uniform and thorough project. I intend to look further into the dangers that these types of procedures can have and take note of any ‘horror stories’ that I come across. By doing this it could really help me find some devastating results that cosmetic surgery has left victims with. The reason for using such an icon is that Barbie is one of the most successful dolls and is known around the world by adults and children alike, they are well established children’s toys even though they are highly sexualised by men, woman and the media. The dolls often tend to be peoples inspiration for getting plastic surgery which is a strange thought, why would anyone want to look like a child’s toy? However, the fact that these dolls are a visualisation of ‘perfection’ and people want to look like them is quite handy, it means that by doing what I intend I am directly attacking the idealistic views modern day society has on peoples appearance and the very company that has helped this happen.

Not only will I be using the dolls in my final design but I intend on encasing them in packaging very similar to the boxes that Barbies already come in. I’d also like to give each a name, like the original dolls, for example; Malibu Barbie. The packaging will be colourful, bold and girly like what already exists, therefore it will be a subtle and confusing, the viewer will think that they are ‘normal’ Barbie dolls until they see it up close.

The fundamental aim of my campaign is to make people aware of the effects that advertising for cosmetic surgery is having of children and young people, so by using a child’s toy in packaging aimed at children the design is predominantly related to young people, mainly females. Although the contents itself may be considered not be suitable for children by many viewers who is to say that the original dolls are? They give girls from a very young age a warped image of what a woman ‘should’ look like without people saying anything.



Below is packaging for children’s activity sets on planes by Tresa Yam. The idea behind this design is to relax children during flights. There are three suitcases and each contain different activities with the purpose of distracting them and keeping them occupied. The packaging itself is aimed at young people aged 9-12 years of age. The design itself is very simple and obviously aimed at children, its made from light card and in the shape of a suitcase, very fitting for its environment and a lot more engaging than a boring old box. For the people I intend to target (adults, business people, students) this would be unsuitable purely because of it’s size and aesthetics, although fitting for its target audience I don’t feel that adults would be comfortable walking around alone with something like this in their hands.


Merkur Suitcase by Tom Chldil is a packaging design for a make of Czech toy called Merkur, and therefore like the design before is aimed at young children. The designer of this felt that using the idea of a suitcase was a great way to sell the tool like toy as according to him tools are carried around in suitcases? well I’ve not seen that myself but then again I’ve never been to the Czech Republic. Like the image before this design is also light and disposable, great for young children but I am leaning toward making something that lasts, that people can save and remember what it means. Again the design of this is relatively simple, something that I want to achieve but I don’t feel that these products have helped in the designing process, if anything they have helped me decided that I want to make sure that what I create is small, aimed at adults and long lasting. However, I do appreciate the minimal colour choices along with the shape, it’s structured and straight, although I kind of think that it looks a bit more like a sandwich bag that a tool bag.


I have decided to take a look at some packaging that has been inspired by crates, like what you would see on the back of a freight train.

Here is a small, very simple example of packaging that has been inspired by a shipping crate. It’s been designed by Robin Lindner for a Nixon watch that is called ‘Moving Out’. It’s been made from recycled wood, which has then been personalised with the brand and not much else, nice and simple. The base is secured by a magnetic strip which allows easy opening and closing (something that I have previously not considered). The fact that this is made from something much more sturdy really appeals to me, I definitely think that I will  use a wood type or another hard material.



These packaging examples were designed as a new food range by Fishermans Friend, Kutter Futter. Each thing is packaged differently but not all are relevant to my project, here are the two pieces that I liked. First is a small simple box made from cardboard, it uses very little imagery or colour giving it a subtle and calm look. The shape of the box although only square is still unique, by exposing the centre of the cardboard itself it gives a relaxed look meaning that the user may not feel too precious towards it. This shape is also easy to handle, it’s familiar and trusting. I like that the packaging has an unfinished appearance as well as the fact that it isn’t bombarding you with information. However, at the moment I am leaning towards making something more permanent, something that people could use again for various thing and not just end up in the trash.


Below is the other packaging example from this project that I thought could be useful to look at. It is a brown paper bag, sounds a bit boring but I really like the shape of this as well as the crumpled effect, again this gives it a relaxed appearance, something that I think could be very fitting for my final outcome. Again there is little information on the outside, the design is understated and disposable. Something like this would be much more transportable than a box.




I have decided to look at a number of different types of packaging that can be found on trains to inspire my final outcome. I believe that this is an important part of my development as I want the design to be relatable to where it is.

Firstly, I decided to look at freight cars that are used by trains to transport goods. Often made from metal these are strong and sturdy ways to carry different things. On researching this there is surprising a huge number of types of these railroad cars, 35 in total. The ‘boxcar’ or ‘covered wagon’ is said to be the most versatile of all types of freights it’s used for a huge number of different types of goods and during both world wars has been used to transport soldiers. The design is said to be the most complex of all but it’s instantly recognisable as everyone has seen one of these. I like the shape of this design, I believe that if I could find a way to simplify the aesthetics it could work quite well as packaging.



Old suitcases are undoubtably fashionable at the moment. People are using them instead of modern ones, as well as using them as decoration in their homes, couples are using them to collect cards in at their weddings, and I’ve even seen dog beds made from them. They definitely have better aesthetic value than the new, more practical ones that we use more regularly. Suitcases are related with travelling and that is why I wanted to have a look at few to see whether I could use any aspects of their design in my final packaging. I like the metal clasps that they often have I think that this really does make things have a vintage more aesthetic rather than the use of padlocks or codes. Of course These are old and therefore are tatty and worn out but I like this look, I like how many of these old case are misshapen and the leather is often creased or cracked. Perhaps I could use these ideas in the development of my design?


Paper coffee cups are all over train stations and trains themselves. They’re biodegradable and light weight which makes them perfect for packaging. Associated with coffee, to then go and put an MP3 in it could be quite a surprise to unsuspecting passengers. The design is simple, easily reproduced and cost effective and so if this was project was being done on a large scale could be quite a good way in which to do so.

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Design Research

The idea is to have the mp3 packaged in some way, it needs to be light and manageable but sturdy to ensure easy handling. After picking up the mp3s today they are very small so there could be many different ways in which I could package it.


Above are some pages from my sketchbook that I have been working it to jot down ideas for my final outcome. I thought about different types of packaging and different materials that it could be made of. This then lead me onto thinking about what types of packaging you would see on a train such as suitcases, coffee cups and shopping bags. I feel that this is an important part of my development as it will help make the packaging relevant to its surroundings instead of being completely irrelevant. I want all elements of the design to have a purpose. I now intend to look at the things that I have listed (old suitcases etc.) as well as existing packaging to see whether this is something that furthers my project and gives it more meaning and substance.