Image Credit: Mattel
In an amazing move, Mattel announced today that Barbie dolls are now available in three new body types: Petite, tall, and curvy. The new dolls are on sale exclusively on the Barbie website, and will be available in physical stores soon. This is one of many big steps the company has made to produce more diverse, inclusive dolls. Last year they introduced a variety of new skin tones, facial features, and hair textures. And now, kids will be able to play with dolls who look a bit more like women they know in real-life.
Image Credit: Mattel.com
A common criticism of Barbie is that the dolls promote an unrealistic body image. Barbie’s ambitions have always been a selling point— the doll has been an astronaut, CEO, and presidential candidate, to name a few—but if a woman with Barbie’s standard proportions existed, she would not be able to lift her head or stand upright. While some may argue that the body size of a toy won’t really impact the way girls think about their bodies, parents have been shying away from the dolls nonetheless. Time reports that Barbie sales dropped 3 percent in 2012, 6 percent in 2013 and 16 percent in 2014.
Image Credit: Mattel.com
This is Mattel’s first move to create dolls that look more like an average woman, but other doll creators have been doing this for some time. Back in 2014, artist and researcher Nickolay Lamm introduced the “Lammily” dolls, also referred to as“average Barbie.” He designed the dolls based on CDC data showing the measurements of an average 19-year-old woman, and created add-on packs that allowed kids to give their dolls scars, tattoos, acne, stretch marks, freckles, cellulite, and more. He recently created an accessories pack that can teach girls about periods.
Lamm says that he designed his dolls with both parents and kids in mind. “She isn’t just a doll with typical body proportions, she’s a fun doll which just happens to have typical body proportions,” he said.
Focus groups for the new dolls drew mixed reviews, according to a Time reporter who attended some sessions. Some parents were ecstatic to offer different kinds of dolls to their kids, while others reported that the new dolls weren’t recognizable as Barbies. But Mattel is standing behind their bold move, because of course it will make little girls happy to own dolls that look more like them.
“Ultimately, haters are going to hate,” Mattel president and COO Richard Dickson, told Time. “We want to make sure the Barbie lovers love us more—and perhaps changing the people who are negative to neutral. That would be nice.”