Long blonde hair. Crystal blue eyes. Thin figure. Bright pink lips.
These are some of the common features attributed to the stereotypical “Barbie.” However, this stereotype often carries negative connotations within the media as it can represent an unrealistic body image for young children who play with them.
Mattel Toy Company has recently increased their efforts to ensure that Barbie’s line of dolls encourages the acceptance of many different body types and features.
The Barbie that originally garnered criticism from popular opinion has proportions seemingly impossible for the average human to obtain. According to medicaldaily.com, “She would stand 6 feet tall, weigh 100 pounds, and have a 39-inch bust, a 19-inch waist, and the hips of a prepubescent boy.”
To denounce this idea that all girls should look up to this body type and/or try to achieve it, Mattel released a short film called “Imagine the Possibilities” in October of 2015 in hopes of changing the way young girls look at these dolls. Click Here to Watch.
The video portrayed playing with Barbies as influential in encouraging young girls to be whoever they wanted to be. In this clip, young girls were shown entering the workforce as veterinarians, professors, and coaches. The video concluded with a scene with a girl acting as a teacher in front of a classroom of Barbies and closing with the slogan, “What happens when girls are free to imagine they can be anything?”
Barbie creator Ruth Handler says, “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices,” according to barbie.com.
Mattel had first begun to implement more realistic features into their dolls with the release of Barbies with movable ankles that allow their feet to fit into flat shoes and also dolls with different skin tones, eye and hair colors.
However, on January 28, Mattel released a new line of Barbies featuring changes that Barbie spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni describes as “drastic,” according to cnn.com.
This line includes dolls that come in either tall, petite, or curvy body types as well as the original-sized Barbie. Consumers will be able to choose between seven different skin tones as well as 22 different eye colors and 24 hairstyles. A total of 33 new dolls have been released.
Some of the dolls will become available in stores starting March 1, as only a number of the newly released dolls are available for purchase online. The dolls will be released periodically as the year progresses.
With body types and features more closely resembling average women, this change provides a new idea of beauty for young girls and may eliminate the Barbie stereotype entirely.
According to usatoday.com, Chidoni says that these new dolls allow, “the product line to be a better reflection of what girls see in the world around them.”