For decades, Mattel’s famous line of Barbie dolls has been heavily criticized for perpetuating an unrealistic and unobtainable image of the female figure. And for some reason, the dolls’ feet were perma-slanted so that Barbie had to wear heels all the time. But today Mattel has announced that Barbie will come in a variety of sizes and skin tones.
Mattel says it is keeping the traditional Barbie, but that its Fashionistas line of Barbie dolls will include three new body types – tall, curvy and petite – that more accurately reflect human proportions. The dolls will also be available in seven different skin tones, with two dozen hairstyles, and 22 eye colors available.
“Barbie reflects the world girls see around them,” explains Richard Dickson, President and Chief Operating Officer of Mattel, in a statement. “Her ability to evolve and grow with the times, while staying true to her spirit, is central to why Barbie is the number one fashion doll in the world.”
The new dolls will go on sale online at Barbie.com starting today, with the goal of getting them into stores this spring.
It’s been a strange few years for Barbie, as Mattel has simultaneously tried to update the 55-year-old toy to reflect modern tastes, while continuing to reinforce age-old stereotypes that have landed Barbie in hot water time and again.
There was the time in 2014, when Barbie starred in a book about being a computer engineer… but an incompetent one who needed the help of boys to turn her game idea into a real piece of software.
Mattel recently flattened Barbie’s perma-angled feet, which had long required that she always wore heels or walked on her tiptoes, but the company also paid to have Barbie featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated’s swimsuit issue.
In each of the last two years, a Barbie product has made an annual list of the year’s worst toys from the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. In 2014, it was for the Barbie Girl Scout program, which included an actual Barbie merit badge for young scouts to earn. Literature for that promotion also continued to play up the character’s sexiness in arguably inappropriate settings, like the Barbie Veterinarian who does sport a white coat… over a skirt that barely reaches her thighs.
More recently, Barbie took home the worst toy award for the new Hello Barbie doll, which can not only record things your child says to it, but can transmit it to third parties.