Author Archives: ijleong

The Reality of Life-Size Barbie

NBC Today Show: Student uses life-size Barbie to battle eating disorders

Like many girls in America, Galia Slayen played with Barbie Dolls when she was growing up.  In high school when she had long since outgrown the doll she decided to use the familiar childhood toy to educate her peers about body image issues. With the help of her neighbor, Slayen created a “Life-Size Barbie” with the famous doll’s exact proportions, 39-18-33. (For reference the average measurements of an American woman today are 35-27-37.5).

The result was shocking, and as Slayen says, “Despite her bizarre appearance, Barbie provides something that many advocacy efforts lack. She reminds of something we once loved, while showing us the absurdity of our obsession with perfection.”

Galia Slayen and her life-size Barbie Doll. Source: Huffington Post

This body conforming obsession is one that many girls deal with on a daily basis.  In our semester and year-long Group mentoring workshops, we address this and many other issues facing adolescent girls.  The topics we discuss include Media Literacy & Body Image, to help girls develop critical thinking skills in response to media messages and celebrate the unique qualities inherent in themselves and others; Self-Esteem, to educate girls on the relationship between self-esteem and behavior, outlook and decisions; and  Stress, Coping & Self-Care, to help girls to evaluate the origin of stress in their lives as well as ways that it can impact them both positively and negatively. Visit for a more detailed list of topics we cover in our Group Mentoring programs. Click here to find out how to volunteer.

Some interesting real life facts about Barbie [via HuffPo]:

• There are two Barbie dolls sold every second in the world.
• The target market for Barbie doll sales is young girls ages 3-12 years of age.
• A girl usually has her first Barbie by age 3, and collects a total of seven dolls during her childhood.
• Over a billion dollars worth of Barbie dolls and accessories were sold in 1993, making this doll big business and one of the top 10 toys sold.
• If Barbie were an actual women, she would be 5’9″ tall, have a 39″ bust, an 18″ waist, 33″ hips and a size 3 shoe.
• Barbie calls this a “full figure” and likes her weight at 110 lbs.
• At 5’9″ tall and weighing 110 lbs, Barbie would have a BMI of 16.24 and fit the weight criteria for anorexia. She likely would not menstruate.
• If Barbie was a real woman, she’d have to walk on all fours due to her proportions.
• Slumber Party Barbie was introduced in 1965 and came with a bathroom scale permanently set at 110 lbs with a book entitled “How to Lose Weight” with directions inside stating simply “Don’t eat.”


A Strong Female Role Model For Every Girl

Washington based writer Gabrielle Nomura recounts meeting her role model, journalist Jenni Hogan, and the importance of a good female role model for every girl…

Gabrielle Nomura

Her role model, Jenni Hogan, KIRO 7 TV anchor

“What hit me then was the importance of role models.

Every girl, whether she wants to be a journalist, a professional athlete or a full-time world traveler should have a woman role model they can emulate, see a bit of themselves in, and be inspired by.

All girls should get an experience like I did at least once in their lives, to be able to sit down at a table with their own version of Jenni Hogan.

It’s not always easy to find a role model, as our society’s way of choosing which women to pay attention to is often skewed. As Faizon Love put it, why is it that Kim Kardashian makes the news, while masses of women who are actually doing newsworthy things, female doctors, researchers, teachers, activists, scholars, business owners and mothers, go unnoticed?”

For more of Gabrielle’s piece on Strong Female Mentors: CLICK HERE

To your Little Sister, you are her role model. Thank you Big Sisters, for being that influential woman in a young girl’s life.

If you are (or know) a girl between 7-15 who would like a women mentor call us at 617-23-8060, email us at or visit us on the web at

It’s National Volunteer Week!

Little Sister Roseanne & Big Sister Joy Falk showing off their creativity at the 2010 Halloween Party.

In celebration of National Volunteer Week, we would like to thank our Big Sisters who collectively volunteered over 170,000 hours to mentor 2567 girls last year!

City Councilor Ayanna Pressley & her Little Sister Arianna

Little Sister Ashley & Big Sister Kerri Norris at Mentoring Night at Fenway Park 2010

Little Sister Victoria & Big Sister Jessica Reardon at the 2010 Walk for Hunger

See more pictures of our Big Sisters and Little Sisters on Facebook.

To learn more about becoming a Big Sister contact us at ,  call us at 617-236-8060 or visit our website.

Big Sister Recruitment Calendar: Week of April 11th, 2011

Recruitment Table

Monday, April 11th from 11:30 a.m. -1:30 p.m.

Fitcorp in the Prudential Center

Roxbury Community College Job, Internship and Volunteer Fair

Wednesday, April 13th from 12 p.m. -3 p.m.

RCC, Student Center, Building 4-cafeteria

United Way Lunch-n-Learn

Thursday, April 14th from 12 p.m. -1 p.m.

United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley

Volunteer Expo at The Prudential Center

Thursday, April 14th from 5:30 p.m. -7:30 p.m.

Prudential Center

Big Sister Recruitment Calendar: Week of April 4th, 2011


Community Job Fair

Monday, March 4th from 5-8:30 p.m.

English High School in Jamaica Plain


Info Session at Arnold Worldwide

Thursday, April 7th from 11:30-1:30 p.m.

101 Huntington Ave.


Harvard Social Impact Career Expo

Thursday, April 7th from 2-5 p.m.

Gutman Conference Center—Harvard School of Education


Feminism and Dessert

Thursday, April 7th from 7-8:30 p.m.

Cambridge City Hall Annex


Strong Women Strong Girls Jump into Spring

Saturday, April 9th from 9:30-12:30 p.m.

Simmons College Holmes Athletic Center

Invest in Girls

Illustration by Gerard Dubois for TIME

Illustration by Gerard Dubois for TIME

The benefits are so obvious, you have to wonder why we haven’t paid attention. Less than 2¢ of every development dollar goes to girls — and that is a victory compared with a few years ago, when it was more like half a cent. Roughly 9 of 10 youth programs are aimed at boys. One reason for this is that when it comes to lifting up girls, we don’t know as much about how to do it. We have to start by listening to girls, which much of the world is not culturally disposed to do.—To Fight Poverty, Invest in Girls by Nancy Gibbs, Time, Feb. 14, 2011

According to the article from which that quote was taken, fewer than 1 in 5 girls make it to secondary school in sub-Saharan Africa. Nearly half are married by the time they are 18; 1 in 7 girls across the developing world marry before they are 15 and get pregnant shortly thereafter. The leading cause of death for girls 15 to 19 worldwide is not accident or violence or disease; it is complications from pregnancy. Girls under 15 are up to five times more likely to die while having children than women in their 20s. Their babies are more likely to die as well.

At Big Sister, we know that investing in girls locally is just as crucial as investing in them globally. Consider this: In 2008, 595 children were born to teenage mothers between the ages of 15 and 19 in Massachusetts, according to a study by The Alan Guttmacher Institute, as reported by the Mass Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. Big Sister has been “lifting up” girls since 1951. We encourage girls to live up to their full potential by providing them with strong female mentors. These are women who most often are simply there to listen; the point at which Gibbs urges us to begin.

There is no doubt that whether it is in Malawi or right here in Boston, we need to increase the investment made in girls. That investment is one of time, of money, and of open ears, hearts, and minds when it comes to addressing the specific needs of girls. We can also encourage girls to invest in each other. That is the mission of Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation that Gibbs references in her article. If you are a Big Sister, we encourage you to visit your Little Sister. Perhaps it will spark a conversation about girls supporting girls locally and globally…and get others to start talking about what it really means to invest in girls.

To read Time Magazine’s number one most emailed article, “To Fight Poverty, Invest in Girls” click here.

“Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

– Margaret Mead

For more information on how to become a Big Sister, apply on our website at or call 617.236.8060.