It’s no secret that Barbie’s body type is about as unrealistic as it gets. According to doctors, her proportions shouldn’t even allow her to be able to walk upright, never mind strutting around the fantasy shopping mall in those stilettos. But even though in the back of our minds, we “all know” that it’s just a doll, the truth is, Barbie is a cultural icon and her permanent super-slender, perky-chested, mini-waisted, thigh-gapped body has influenced generations of girls’ perception of beauty and personal image. Not to mention, there’s been more than one case of women undergoing extreme plastic surgery to try to achieve the Barbie body.
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But if the past few years are any indication, women are demanding change—not just vocally but with their wallets. Barbie’s head of brand, Evelyn Mazzocco, admits that she “routinely receives hate mail and even death threats over Barbie’s body” and according to Time’s cover story, Barbie sales dropped 20% from 2012 to 2014 and continued to slump in 2015.
In other words, change had to happen.
Today, Mattel, the toy manufacturers behind Barbie announced that the doll is finally getting a more realistic look. The company released a new range of Barbies, which are now available in 3 additional sizes: “petite” “tall” and “curvy” and seven different skin tones, 22 eye color, 30 hair colors, 14 face shapes, and 24 hair styles. Curvy Barbie even has a real-life stomach pooch!
Mazzocco says that that “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. We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty.”
Barbie’s long-overdue evolution may have come down to a business decision, an effort to save tanking sales, but it’s reflective of a much wider cultural conversation that we’ve seen from celebrities to the girl next door. Body positivity–and body diversity–are in.
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