Meet The New And Much Improved Barbies
After 57 years of more unattainability than Hollywood and Photoshop combined, Mattel is FINALLY launching three new body types for Barbie: tall, petite, and curvy. The doll we’ve all loved to hate has been scrutinized for years over her unrealistic representations of a woman’s body and beauty that could only be achieved by standing in front of a warped mirror, caked in costume makeup. Of course you could spend $800k on surgery like Valeria Lukyanova, a.k.a. the Human Barbie Doll, but if you’re not down for spending money on such shenanigans as rib removal then you’re basically doomed. Thankfully, after years of decreased sales and desperate attempts, Mattel finally came to their senses and realized what they had to do: make a realistic doll.
The new line of dolls will come in three additional body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 24 hairstyles and colors, and—most importantly—a flat foot! Let’s be real, wearing stilettos sucks and nobody could relate to someone—Barbie or not—who wears them all the time with a smile. But why has she taken so long to become a doll that different types of girls can relate to? Evelyn Mazzocco, head of the Barbie brand, tried to justify the long wait by saying that “changes at a huge corporation take time,” but Barbie has gone nearly six decades without a significant change. Not to mention the fact that Barbie has undergone some changes in the past, namely switching up occupations (and thus wardrobes) on the reg, as well as procuring countless accessories, including houses with elevators and convertible cars. Mattel has had time for change—so long as it’s the type of change that suits them. But hey, at least they’ve finally jumped onto the body positive boat. It’s a huge step forward.
92% of American girls ages three to 12 have owned a Barbie. So it’s great that so many will now be able to play with their dolls and think,”Wow, this looks like me!” Even though Barbie’s eyes are still freakishly big and her hair still impossibly tamed, the fact that girls will be able to play with a doll that isn’t deemed beautiful for having deformed proportions is a huge relief. Mattel even said that their aim was to make dolls that “more closely reflect their young owners’ world.” And they did. Just listen to the girls in the video below saying things like, “I like ’em because this one looks like me and this one looks like my mom.”
Now that Barbies are relatable to both daughters and moms, they’ll most likely see a spike in sales too. In 1962 Barbie had a diet book that simply read, “Don’t eat,” and in 1992 there was a Barbie that was programed to say, “Math is hard.” (You can’t make this shit up.) What kind of parent would want their child to look up to that?
Nowadays, women are much more vocal about what beauty is, and curvaceous icons have brought about change to the “ideal body.” Additionally, body positive figures like Lena Dunham have helped change the discussion of what beautiful bodies look like, and encouraging women to embrace their figures through social media by posting images of their un-Barbie-like figures. Mattel had to keep up somehow, and considering that a 2006 study found that girls exposed to Barbie at a young age expressed greater concern with being thin compared to those who played with other dolls, they needed to take action ASAP. And hey, it may have taken a long time, but they did finally get Barbie through her immature identity crisis. Maybe not for the right reasons, but they did. And frankly, it doesn’t matter what their intentions were, as long as young girls can play with a doll that won’t give them low self-esteem or inspire eating disorders. That’s what counts.
Stay tuned to Milk for more body positive coverage.
Main image by Kathryn Chadason. Additional images via Mattel.