A Much-Needed Makeover: Barbie’s New Look
Tech is forcing Barbie to step it up.
Sure, Barbie used to be the ‘it’ toy for girls. She was tall, thin and had to-die-for hair. She may have been unrealistic in terms of her body shape, but what did we care? It wasn’t until recently that people started bringing attention to the variances in female body types and how poorly they were represented in the popular doll.
Fast forward to today, where at some point it become clear that Barbie has been a big culprit of creating a body image that left girls feeling a little, if not entirely self-conscious about their bodies. If we didn’t have stick legs, a perky chest and bright blue eyes then we weren’t entirely sure what we were.
In saying that, it comes as no surprise that Mattel has noticed its numbers dropping furiously. According to The New York Times, Mattel saw a 14% drop in sales last year and the future didn’t look good. The reason? A lot of it has to do with tech. New toys and technology have swayed kids towards different kinds of interests, and opened up the possibilities for more advanced hobbies and different attitudes towards toys.
If Barbie was meant to compete, then it was going to have to change its old-school ways and start focusing on the messages we’re trying to send to today’s kids.
It was a long time coming. After 57 years of being in the toy industry, the creators at Barbie have finally taken real steps in the right direction. Mattel recently presented the 2016 Barbie Fashionista, with totally new makeovers meant to represent a variety of different body types, skin tones, and heights.
The various short, tall, and curvy body types are a totally new thing for Barbie, and she’s also been given various facial structures, a wide variety of hair colors, and articulated ankles so she can wear heels or flats. (Finally.)
The goal is to re-establish Barbie as a woman who is less worried about her body image, and more focused on her inner drive and personal goals. The collection comes with a wide variety of new clothing styles as well as props for their careers, and kids can even choose to have their doll be the President, a game developer, or a secret spy. The motion is occurring to keep up with all of the other great toys and software available, which are more gender neutral and suggest that kids can be anything they want to be instead of just a fashionista. (This is where I cringe that they decided to call the line Barbie Fashionista Dolls…ahhh one step at a time.)
The response to this new wave of Barbie shapes and sizes has been getting mixed responses. Many can’t really comprehend why we even care about Barbie anymore, while others are simply giddy over the idea of having a curvy, blue-haired Barbie to give to their nieces or nephews.
This change in the outdated line of toys is certainly going in the right direction, but there are still many things to be discussed. Whether or not these new shapes will be popular for kids is yet to be seen, but after taking so long to evolve their dolls, the fate of Barbie is still unknown. Now that Barbie is a little more realistic, what are we going to do about Ken? How are we going to change his proportions and give these two icons more gender neutral designs?
While Mattel works out the kinks of their long-awaited changes, you can pre-order dolls online and expect to have them by March 20th.
Would you buy a Barbie Fashionista for the young and impressionable kids in your life? Why or why not?