So ICYMI, last week the toy manufacturing giant Mattel dropped a (blonde) bombshell, announcing the biggest change to the Barbie franchise in 56-years… the iconic Barbie collection will be adding 3 new body types; tall, curvy and petite.
The iconic blue-eyed bombshell that has set unrealistic and anatomically impossible “body goals” has officially had a nice dose of reality and finally created a line of dolls that can act as an example for diversity and promote realistic body image in youth culture. In addition to these new body types, the brand has added 7 additional skin tones, 18 hairstyles and 18 eye colours to reflect their worldwide audience, consumers and to reflect worldwide diversity.
Senior Vice President and Global General Manager Evelyn Mazzocco said: ‘We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – 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.’
The 57-year-old doll has long been criticised for its unrealistic proportions and for setting unattainable beauty standards. Barbie biographer M.G. Lord even once said that Barbie is meant “to teach women what — for better or worst — is expected of them in society,” something that prior to this change was just a ridiculous goal. Now, with these new additions, women are encouraged to be any shape and size…well almost (as long as it is one of these four shapes and sizes)! It’s by no means the only thing that can be done, but it definitely is a step forward to breaking down these expectations and encouraging diversity by an extremely influential public figure.
‘For more than 55 years, Barbie has been a global, cultural icon and a source of inspiration and imagination to millions of girls around the world…
Barbie reflects the world girls see around them. Her ability to evolve and grow with the times, while staying true to her spirit, is central to why Barbie is the number one fashion doll in the world.’
Richard Dickson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Mattel
However this massive brand realignment begs the question….why now? Why only NOW are they shifting to this inclusive, diverse and multicultural image? It’s hard to ignore the correlation between this brand revamp and Mattel’s declining sales of the doll – sales were down for three straight years and by 16 per cent in the first half of 2015. It’s my opinion that the somewhat archaic and unrealistic tradition of the doll was and had been a turnoff for many years as there are only so many variation on the blonde-hair, blue eyed doll you can throw out there before it can start to get somewhat…stale. It seems to me that the most effective way to shine the spotlight once again on the Queen of the toy world, would be a big makeover; for the doll and brand alike…
Regardless of the intentions of this revamp, you can’t deny that this fresh makeover, promoting inclusion, diversity and having something for everyone is much more in line with modern times, values and multiculturalism. Having grown up with Barbie myself, this change is a long time coming and definitely an important step into body acceptance, challenging beauty standards and encouraging diversity and I would much rather have these dolls in the hands of young girls than their clone-like predecessors.
So good for you Mattel, snaps for Babs.