The Barbie Sessions

A while back I saw this thing about “How To Use The Golden Mean To Dress Well“… although they’re it’s actually using the rule of 3rds (that photographers use) rather than Phi… 1.618.

dresswellWhich comes from this site here, which has lots of advice about “how to dress”, which I probably ought to take a look at, because I look like The Big Lebowski.


Anyway… time passes, then I saw this:

barbie-LED-dress-1WHICH IS WRONG WRONG WRONG

I don’t care if it does light up in the dark. The proportions aren’t (how you say) flattering.

So apparently someone named Tim Gunn has designed some clothes for Barbie. I have no idea who Tim Gunn is, but apparently he’s been on the television… and the outfits do look quite good, although I wouldn’t wear them myself. I did some golden-mean-checking on them… with the usual caveats about margin-of-error…

barbie2 barbie1

And they’re pretty close…

jessica… so I thought I might try the same thing with Jessica Rabbit

jessica_albaAnd then there’s the other Jessica…

lebowskiNot saying she looks like Barbie… but she looks a lot more like Barbie than I do…

So I thought “how does the grotesquely proportioned Barbie, compare to normal women”?… the best chart/comparison I could find was this:

barbie3Where (caveats apply (and this is a real stretch)) it looks as though a normal human body has more incidences of the golden mean than barbie, but Barbie proportions make clothes look better… which I suppose is why fashion models are all Barbie-shaped. Or at least more Barbie shaped than I am.

All of which is cheating.

In the process of doing this I wrote a program to calculate the ratios of all adjacent segments in a shape – so for 6 horizontal lines, there are 20 adjacent segments. 7=35, 8=56, 9=84 etc etc. And if you divide a “famously golden-meany” object like “The Human Body” or “The Parthenon” etc, using all the lines you could use… (which in the human body is about 12)… then the number of proportions that are within 4% of the golden mean aren’t actually any more than you get with a random selection.

So there is quite a lot of confirmation bias going on here.

The one exception I did find… was Barbie. Barbie dolls (if you use ALL 12 relevant nodal points, rather than arbitrarily selected ones) do actually have significantly greater numbers of golden-ratios than anything else I tried… including the Parthenon.

Make of that what you will.

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