Barbie always seemed to rub people up the wrong way. Her doll-life was shrouded in negativity; her highly unrealistic body shape the subject of constant criticism over the negative message it sent to young girls. She was a female stereotype; her love of pink dresses and shopping was frequently called out with dismay. Mattel, the company which creates the doll, tried to rectify this by featuring a young boy in their ad campaign, and now they are taking things one step further.
It is worth noting that in recent years, she has been slowly trying to adapt to the modern world – she even wears flat shoes. But now an even bigger change has happened: her body type has been re-created to reflect the image of real-life girls.
The new Fashionista dolls will have four body types: the original, plus tall, curvy, and petite. They also feature seven skin tones, 22 eye colours, 30 hair colours, 24 hair styles, and 14 face sculpts. Faced with changes in beauty ideals, shifting demographics and ongoing criticism of Barbie’s impossible proportions, Mattel decided to remake the iconic blonde, the biggest project since the doll was launched originally.
— TIME.com (@TIME) January 28, 2016
According to Time (where Barbie has landed her very own cover), the company reiterated that this change had to happen, both for their young fan base and to raise dwindling profits (they were down 20% last year alone). It is their hope that the dolls, with their diverse body types, along with the new skin tones and hair textures introduced last year, will more closely reflect their young owners’ world.
It’s a change that had to happen. Some may say that Barbie is “just a doll,” but like it or not, she is silently speaking to thousands of young girls; presenting them with a body type that is unattainable and just not real (her waist size, seriously?). Barbie’s proportions are so beyond the norm, and this is the message her creators are at least trying to send out.
It’s a Doll’s Life: Barbie’s Controversies and TriumphsSee Barbie’s biggest controversies and triumphs.
Posted by TIME on Thursday, 28 January 2016
The publication also said the move is meant to cater to millennial mothers, who are the future of their consumer base and restore a ruined reputation. An executive said she received death threats about Barbie’s super-skinny body. It reportadly even took months to decide on the terms tall, petite, and curvy, and figure out how to translate those terms into different languages without offending people.
“We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” Evelyn Mazzocco, the brand’s senior vice president and global brand manager, said. “These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.”
So, perhaps now that Barbie is finally on par with the real women of today, she’ll be viewed in a more positive light.
What do you make of the changes?