Since the shelving of Barbie dolls 57 years ago, the original “modelesque” looking Barbie dolls will now be coming to shelves starting March 1st in four body types and seven skin tones, with 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. These changes come in response after years of criticism from consumers and health professionals at the doll’s body proportions, setting unrealistic beauty standards for young girls.
In 2006, a British study concluded that “girls exposed to Barbie [dolls] reported lower body esteem and greater desire for a thinner body shape” than those who had been given dolls reflecting larger body types or no dolls at all (CNN). The director of consumer insights for the doll line, Tania Missad, emphasized the importance of “letting girls know it doesn’t matter what shape you come in, that anything is possible”. On her online video, on the doll’s website, she continues to promote the new Barbie’s as they redefine the standard of “what a beautiful body looks like”.
Twitter users have also been responding to Thursday’s announcement. Sarah Skywalker (@AphonicSarah) tweeted “ #Barbie is adding new body types to its line and I’m in tears. It’s incredible. They look like real people.” Andrea Guzman, senior at Leonia High School was also in tears after looking at pictures of the new line of dolls. She thinks it is a good initiative that is being taken by the company promoting positive self-esteem and setting new beauty ideals for young girls. Some twitter users however were passionate about making some counter-points to the company’s promotion. Tyler McCall (@eiffeltyler) supports a Barbie that looks like “a real girl and not some insanely proportioned one”. Nickolay Lamm, founder of the Lamilly fashion doll, similarly campaigned for the promotion of a “normal Barbie” that comes with birthmarks, scars, zits, stretch marks and cellulite (The Washington Post). The creation of this “19-year old” looking doll has now received more than 20 international toy awards and is now available in 30 countries.
As a result of Barbie’s recent release, sales have soared to nearly $320 million- a huge increase from its decline in 2013 while in competition with other companies like the Lamilly fashion doll. Richard Dickinson, Matel’s President, credits this success to Barbie’s“ability to evolve and grow with the times, while staying true to her spirit”.