Barbie has undergone the most dramatic change in her 57 year history – she now has three new looks – petite, curvy and tall – which Mattel hopes will make the doll more relevant to the girls who will own them.
USA Today is reporting on the new dolls, which debut today online and will be available March 1 in stores. Along with the usual trim figured doll, girls will now have the option of buying a curvier version, a more petite Barbie and a tall version.
The new dolls are an attempt to stop perpetuating the myth of the perfect body and come up with products that are “a better reflection of what girls see in the world around them,” says spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni.
The three new additions are also aimed at responding to years of criticism over Barbie’s inhuman proportions. Coupled with the media’s portrayal of overly-thin models as the look of today’s beauty, girls wanting to emulate what they see are lapsing into eating disorders at ever younger ages in order to attain unhealthy body weights.
Mattel’s move is a step in the right direction.
“We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice president and global general manager of Barbie, in a company statement.
The decision wasn’t just altruistic, however. According to Time Magazine, Barbie sales plummeted 20 percent from 2012 to 2014 and continued to fall last year. In fact, Lego’s new Lego Friends line of toys designed to teach girls to build was so popular it boosted Lego sales above Mattel to become the biggest toy company in the world in 2014.
But Mattel’s outlook is far from dim. Even though sales are declining, the iconic doll still brings in $1 billion in sales annually with 92 percent of American girls ages three to 12 owning a Barbie.
Like it or not, the voluptuously figured doll has long been a symbol of American beauty.
Time quotes Barbie biographer M. G. Lord who once wrote that the doll was designed “to teach women what – for better or worse – is expected of them in society.”
But when those expectations become dangerous to our health, it’s time for the adults in the room to stand up and take charge.
Let’s hope more companies that promote unhealthy body images to girls take note of Mattel’s move and follow suit.
For the sake of our world, we must all take responsibility for the health and well-being of the life-givers of tomorrow – our precious young girls.
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