Today, Mattel released a whole new line of Barbies. In response to lowered sales and, perhaps, to an increase in the number of dolls who, like the much-publicized Lamily, seek to represent a more normal human body-type, Mattel is releasing a more diverse set of Barbies. Barbie still comes in her familiar long-legged, tiny-waisted form, but she can also be purchased in a yet taller(!) version, curvy and petite forms as well as with a foot position allowing for tennis shoes, flip-flops, and comfortable walking in bare feet.
Each body shape also comes in a multitude of skin and hair colors, letting girls–or their parents–choose the doll of their dreams. In addition, Barbie–in all her forms–continues to practice an ever-widening array of professions, everything from fashionista to President. Or, she can be a spy.
The different looks as shown on Mattel’s website
Although, like Michelle Chidoni, head of communications for the Barbie, Mattel has spent years insisting that “Barbie was never designed to replicate the female body…She was a vehicle for play,” people have persisted in comparing Barbie to the actual human body:
The International Journal of Eating Disorders reports that the odds of being born with a Barbie-like body are less than 100,000 to 1; the doll’s teeny-tiny waist would accommodate just half a liver and a few inches of intestine, experts say, and her uberlong neck would wilt under the weight of her disproportionately huge head.
Half a liver and almost no intestines will definitely interfere with a woman’s plans, so a doll large enough to accommodate a full complement of innards is most welcome.
In addition to Tweeting about their new line under #TheDollEvolves, Mattel has a new video full of cute moppets enjoying the new dolls:
As a former little girl, and as someone who still collects dolls, I say “Three cheers!” At the same time, the slightly more cynical side of me notes that this means that now all of Barbie’s many, many outfits will come in multiple sizes as well, so any parent who buys their child two sizes of Barbie is now going to have to keep track of Barbie’s clothing and shoe-sizes.
What do you think? Is this a welcome change? A cheap marketing ploy? Or too much ado about nothing?