By Lauren Linhard – firstname.lastname@example.org
I named my Barbie Stacey – she was tall, had blue eyes, blonde hair and a personal pink limo. I wanted to be her. The only problem? I was (and still am) short with brown hair and a curvy figure, and, well, no limo. Stacey and I had nothing in common, and I often felt ugly and incomplete in comparison.
But, with Mattel’s recent changes to the Barbie body type, there’s hope the next generation of Barbie fans will see themselves in a more positive light when playing with their new best friend.
Beginning in March, the Barbie Fashionista doll line will include four body types, the original as well as tall, curvy and petite, along with seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles.
“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,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, Senior Vice President and Global General Manager of Barbie.
The announcement comes only two years after Mattel VP of Design Kim Culmone defended the unrealistic Barbie body, stating the doll was designed to be easily changed in and out of different outfits. She also blamed the ever increasing amount of body image issues in young girls on moms and peers.
Dr. Sharon Lamb, chair of University of Massachusetts Boston’s School of Psychology called Culmone’s comments a marketing strategy: “I think that just because parents influence children too doesn’t mean that Barbie doesn’t. It’s not an either or.”
So why the sudden and drastic change? Could be that Barbie sales have been falling annually for the past two years, or that a recent study found the brand to be less relevant than 80 percent of 3,500 related brands.
Regardless of the reason, it’s about time the number one doll brand in the world owned up to the responsibility that comes with having such influence.
“We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” Mazzocco said.