After 57 years, it’s about time Barbie got a makeover! And no, it’s not that she got the latest looks off the runway (although she did get those too) or a new eye shadow, rather the doll has transformed in a way that consumers have been urging — Mattel finally listened. The Barbie of 2016 doesn’t have an unfeasible (literally, not replicable in nature) figure. Instead the plastic toy has morphed to resemble the women and girls who love it: tall, curvy, petite.
On Thursday, Mattel announced Barbie will come in three new body types. While the Barbie that those around the world have loved for decades will still be available, these additional designs will only add to the company’s increasingly diverse offerings, with seven different skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 various hairstyles and hair colors to choose from. The El Segundo, Calif., toy company’s latest dolls went on sale on Barbie.com the same morning, and they’ll begin hitting shelves on March 1. But that’s not all! By the end of the year, a total of 33 new dolls will have been rolled out.
These changes come in response to customer demand for dolls that look like them. While strides were made in 2015 — Barbie’s foot was flattened so she wasn’t perpetually prepared to slip into a pair of high heels (it’s hard to run around in stilettos on all her high-powered and important jobs) and a doll version of director Ava Duvernay flew off shelves — sales were still tanking. “We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice president and global general manager of Barbie, said in a statement.
Initial response to the news was overwhelmingly positive.
I’ll only support new ‘curvy’ Barbie if her thighs wobble as realistically as mine do. pic.twitter.com/4OE1QDZAFy— Emma Haslett (@emmahaslett)January 28, 2016
#Barbie is adding new body types to its line and I’m in tears. It’s incredible. They look like real people.— Sarah Skywalker (@AphonicSarah)January 28, 2016
— Phoebe ♡ (@Phoebefifi_)January 28, 2016
I always really, really loved @Barbie. It wasn’t her appearance that inspired me, but rather the fact that she had literally EVERY JOB.— nicolette mason (@nicolettemason)January 28, 2016
BARBIE IS STEPPING UP THEIR GAME pic.twitter.com/kgCgqOor81— chef g (@ErinGuarriello)January 28, 2016
Although there were some making counter-points as well:
If a girl is still young enough to play with #Barbie, she’s too young to care about body image - stop putting adult hang-ups on children.— Ella Whelan (@Ella_M_Whelan)January 28, 2016
Okay but what if we just…made Barbie………look like a real girl and not some insanely proportioned one? Idk idk sorry 2 b Debbie Downer— Tyler McCall (@eiffeltyler)January 28, 2016
Spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni added that the brand wanted “the product line to be a better reflection of what girls see in the world around them.” It’s about time Barbie provided this, considering there were others in the marketplace filling in the gap. Most notably, artist Nickolay Lamm funded a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring a “normal Barbie” to market with the body of an average 19-year-old woman (add-ons include stickers with birth marks, scars, zits, cellulite, and stretch marks). Additionally, Disney’s Frozen dolls replaced Barbie as the feminist doll of choice.
According to Time, the company knows the changes are a risk and a design team spent two years reinventing Barbie. It took Mattel months just to select the three words for each figure type. And it then had to translate those into appropriate, inoffensive terms — internationally as well.
Now, all curvy Barbie needs is Dadbod Ken.