The honour of a tiny 46-year-old plastic woman is at the centre of an argument between a Brazilian artist and a major toy manufacturer.

The pneumatic curves of the iconic Barbie doll have provided inspiration to photographer Karin Schwarz.

Her pictures of the blonde in compromising situations with other female models have upset Mattel, who are threatening legal action unless the images are removed from the Amazing Girls exhibition in the south-eastern city of Curitiba.

But Schwartz has a thing or two to say to Mattel about Barbie’s current treatment.

“Barbie is exploited by Mattel. She wears a bikini, she shows off her belly, has big breasts, and even has a boyfriend,” she told the Jornal de Sao Paulo.

Barbie’s owners are sensitive to the implication that their chattel is not 100% heterosexual.

A company spokesman said: “Barbie is a very proper lady and she is not happy about being portraited as something that she isn’t.

“We are going to sue and we hope that this teaches people a lesson. Also, Barbie is 46 years old, she should be respected.”