One of the world’s most recognizable dolls also has one of the most unrealistic physical silhouettes: busty, thin-waisted, porcelain-skinned, and very, very blonde. Now, Mattel is introducing three new body types–petite, tall, and curvy–that, coupled with new skin tones and hair textures released last year, will give kids new female forms to identify with.
By Eliana Dockterman at Time:
Therein lies Barbie’s problem. As much as Mattel has tried to market her as a feminist, Barbie’s famous figure has always overshadowed her business outfits. At her core, she’s just a body, not a character, a canvas upon which society can project its anxieties about body image. “Barbie has all this baggage,” says Jess Weiner, a branding expert and consultant who has worked with Dove, Disney and Mattel to create empowering messaging for girls. “Her status as an empowered woman has been lost.”
With all that in mind, Kim Culmone, head of design, posed a challenge to her team:
If you could design Barbie today, how would you make her a reflection of the times? Out of that came changing Barbie’s face to have less makeup and look younger, giving her articulated ankles so she could wear flats as well as heels, giving her new skin tones to add diversity and then of course changing the body. While curvy Barbie’s hips, thighs and calves are visibly larger than before, from the waist up she is less Jessica Rabbit than she is pear-shaped. Mattel refuses to discuss the actual proportions of the new dolls or how it came to decide on them.
This story was originally published on January 28th, 2016.