By Heather Brown

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Barbie has stood 11-and-a-half-inches tall — with a shape that defies reality — since 1959.

But Mattel announced Thursday that the world’s most famous doll is getting a makeover.

In addition to the Barbie we all know, she will now also come in tall, curvy and petite sizes.

It is sparking lots of conversation about body shape. So, what do healthy bodies look like?

“A healthy body is so much more about the way the body feels, the way the body operates, the energy that the body can have,” Dr. Michele Strachan, a pediatrician at the University of Minnesota, said.

She says the discussion is better centered on listening to what our bodies tell us than strictly following numbers, like hip-to-waist ratio and body mass index (BMI).

The Centers for Disease Control says BMI can be an indicator for high-body fatness.

Dr. Strachan says to ask yourself these things: Do you need an alarm or a jolt before you get going? Is it hard for you to move as much as you want? Do your joints ache? Are you always tired in the afternoons? Do you get headaches at night?

“All of those things are indicators that your body is not at its peak performance,” Dr. Strachan said. “This body is, instead of being a vehicle to propel me, it’s a liability. It’s weighing me down, literally.”

For example, if a person’s waist is the same size or larger than their hips, that could be an indication a person is not exercising enough or making poor food choices — and it is slowing down their digestion.

Researchers have found belly fat to be more dangerous than extra fat around the hips or thighs.

“The reason this is important is because the majority of our vital organs is in this area, and fat is infiltrating and interfering with their function,” Dr. Strachan said.

Genes can ultimately play a role in body shape, but research shows they should be considered a blueprint.

Dr. Strachan says a healthy lifestyle — including good food choices, proper sleep and exercise — can help us turn off certain genes.

“The body shape that is healthy for me is one that allows me to eat well,” Dr. Strachan said. “By eating well, I mean I’m aware of when my body is hungry, I eat and I’m also aware of when my body is satisfied and I stop eating.”

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