Mattel Announces Changes to Barbie’s Body, Skin Tones


Mattel has announced a new line of Barbie dolls on its website that feature curvy, tall, and petite versions of the original model.  The new additions were also featured in an article for Time magazine with a cover headline that read, “Now can we stop talking about my body?”

“We have to let girls know it doesn’t matter what shape you come in, that anything is possible,” Tania Missad, director of consumer insights for the doll line, said in a video on the Barbie brand website.

The doll will now be available in four body types and seven skin tones, in addition to 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles.  According to spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni, 33 new dolls will be created.

The company has been making changes to the doll over the last two years in an effort to create more realistic body standards and better reflect the diversity of the children who play with the doll, writes Mary Bowerman for USA Today.  Just last year Mattel changed the doll to include flexible ankles, which allowed her to wear flat shoes for the first time ever.

While the company increased the number of skin tones, eye colors, and hair styles available last June, the recent changes “are by far the most dramatic we’ve ever made,” Chidoni said.

“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.

First released in 1959, Barbie has been the center of mounting criticism for years over her unrealistic body proportions and beliefs that the doll caused girls all over the world to adhere to a single, almost impossible standard of beauty, reports Michael Pearson for CNN.

A 2006 British study found that girls who played with Barbie dolls reported having lower self-esteem and felt they needed to be thinner than girls who had played with dolls with larger bodies, or girls who did not play with dolls.

Robert Best, senior director of Barbie Product Design, said the recent changes were a positive force for discussing these issues, adding that by creating the new dolls, the company was saying “there isn’t this narrow standard of what a beautiful body looks like.”

The announcement was met with high praise on social media, as Twitter users thanked Mattel for their bravery. One user said they would now be proud to purchase a Barbie for their daughter, writes Shan Li for The Los Angeles Times.

While only some of the dolls are currently only available on Mattel’s website, customers may purchase them at retail locations beginning March 1.  The full line is expected to be introduced in stages throughout the year.

The company would like to see the new line help to reverse a decrease in sales that has occurred over the past few years, which has seen Barbie replaced by Lego as the most popular toy brand, reports Rachel Abrams for The New York Times.

Reports from Mattel last October found Barbie sales across the world dropping 4% in the third quarter of 2015.  The company’s stock price fell almost 43% from its peak in 2013.

02 3, 2016
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