Barbie may have unattainable curves, but GI Joe's pecs may prove just as demoralizing to the egos of today's preschoolers.
In a recently published study, researchers show how the bodies of action figures have changed through the years. According to the data, toys like GI Joe and Luke Skywalker have gone from naturalistic body types to bulked-up musclemen.
Dr. Harrison G. Pope, associate professor of psychiatry at the Medical School and author of the study, said he is worried that young boys will aspire to the impossibly muscular bodies of their action figures.
"GI Joe has been getting steadily more muscular over the years... by the 70s he had been putting in substantial time at the gym," he continued.
The report reads that the original GI Joe, if scaled to human height, would have a bicep circumference of about 11 1/2 inches--that of an ordinary man.
But a GI Joe Extreme from 1997 would hace biceps that measure 26 inches, larger than any body builder in history.
"We looked at GI Joe and the Star Wars figures the most," Pope said, because both are made by the same manufacturers and both have been steadily popular over time."
Pope was cautious to draw any absolute conclusions about the toys' effect on children.
"We're not saying that playing with these toys make little boys grow up to be neurotic," he said. But Pope added that the bulked-up toys affect society's view of the ideal male body.
"Little kids playing with [the toys] get a very unrealistic idea of the male body image," he said.