This week Mattel launched its biggest change to the Barbie® brand in its 57 year history. Although we have seen additions of dolls with different skin colours and modified changes, there hasn’t been anything like what we are seeing right now. Barbie is expanding its Fashionistas® line by adding three new body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles with various textures and clothing to fit the different shapes and sizes. There’s curvy, tall and petite dolls.
When all lined up together they truly reflect what society really looks like, an array of women from different backgrounds, with different bodies while representing the beauty in every woman.
“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,” said Richard Dickson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Mattel. “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.”
For many years the original Barbie has sparked hot debates around how it affects young girls and how they feel about themselves. Barbie has often been accused of representing an unrealistic beauty ideal that only serves to negatively affect the self-esteem and body image of young girls. This is why Mattel, the makers of Barbie, have made many developments over the last few years. Diversity continues to be a focus on the new direction of the brand. Since 2015, Barbie® has added 23 dolls with new skin tones, hair colours and a flat foot (as an alternate to the arched foot made for wearing heels). This new collection also features different feet to match the body types; larger foot on tall and curvy Barbie.
This change is one that will really shake up the doll industry to continue on the journey of diversity and inclusiveness represented in the dolls children play with. It will allow young people to broaden their imaginations when they play and create stories using Barbie. The story and image is no longer one dimension.
Evelyn Mazzocco, Senior Vice President and Global General Manager Barbie 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.” She also added, “We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty.”
What are your thoughts on this big change? Did you have a Barbie growing up? Do you think this will benefit young girls today and going forward?
I think this new group of dolls will help in girls learning to see themselves as beautiful. Maybe not every girl is affected by the old classic blonde Barbie, but many didn’t see themselves in her image which could have been challenging as a little girl. I know I had a Barbie growing up and I would have loved to see some diversity at that time. It didn’t exist back then.
These days there are several companies who have made efforts to be more inclusive and feature dolls of various ethnicities. Barbie is the biggest brand in the doll industry and a change like this is certainly going to pave the way for all others to continue what they are also doing.
The dolls are available on www.shopmattel.com. They will roll out the doll in stores in the US in spring 2016.