It’s a New Barbie World
Posted on February 5, 2016, at 1:40 p.m.
by Mackenzie Ross.
Like many little girls, I spent countless hours crafting fairytales, building dream homes and finding the perfect pink outfit for my 11.5 inch, blonde-haired, blue-eyed best friend. The doll known as “Barbie” was more than just a toy; she was my opportunity to do anything or become anyone. The iconic Barbie image may be known worldwide, but it’s attracting new media attention for its efforts to change that image.
On January 28, Time published an article about new Barbie dolls that look decidedly different from the original Barbie. Over the years, the Barbie brand has released dolls with different hair colors and skin tones, and while Barbie continues that trend, the shape of the new dolls has everyone talking.
Barbie.com is now exclusively selling tall, petite and curvy shaped dolls. Compared to the original doll with its unrealistic waist size and body proportions, the new dolls better reflect the variety of body types in our society. The idea behind the design is that girls will choose a doll most closely resembling their own body.
Regarding the change, Robert Best, senior director for Barbie’s product design, said in a video on the Barbie website, “This is what [Barbie’s] future looks like because this is what the world looks like.”
The new dolls represent the brand’s attempt at changing its image, especially after years of plummeting profits and criticism regarding impossible body shapes. In recent years, competitors like Lammily earned immense national media attention for embracing “real” women’s body types and lifestyles. So, it’s no surprise Barbie is finally jumping on the “real” bandwagon.
Moms across the world might be happy their daughters will finally have a choice regarding Barbie’s shape, but the drastic change to the brand could prove to be detrimental. Can a brand maintain an iconic status while changing the very features that make it unique?
Adults who have played with Barbie at any point in the past 57 years will most likely associate the Barbie brand with the thin, blonde-haired, blue-eyed doll who can “be anything” like a doctor, lawyer, teacher or veterinarian. However, by embracing the new “normal,” the Barbie company may lose its distinguishing factor.
Once they arrive at toy stores across the country, the new Barbie dolls will line the shelves next to other dolls like Lammily that also offer a variety of shapes and skin tones. So the question is this: Will young girls have a reason to choose Barbie over her competitors?
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