Barbie versus Modulor Ideal Bodies, Buildings, and Typical Users

in Girlhood Studies
Restricted access

Engaging a cross-disciplinary approach, this comparative analysis shows how two disparate icons, Barbie and Modulor, are similar. The former is an often criticized symbol of girl culture, beauty, and consumerism. The latter is a drawing of a man that summarizes the dimensional system of Le Corbusier, one of the world's most influential architects, and that subsequently became a symbol of modern architecture. Divided into three parts—idealized bodies, their spaces, and how typical users are excluded—this nuanced interpretation explores the intersections of architecture, feminism, embodiment, and ableism. I show how these two bodies—Barbie and Modulor—inspire homes that emphasize the vertical: the buildings exclude typical users. For instance, Barbie's friend Becky, who is in a wheelchair, does not fit into Barbie's skinny world and Modulor's needs are dissimilar to those of mothers and children. Putting these artifacts into conversation reinvigorates the subjects and provides a contextual framework in which to consider Barbie's house as architecture.

Girlhood Studies

An Interdisciplinary Journal