Averi Amsterdam, Staff Writer
According to CNN, “Girls and women don’t come in one shape, and now, finally, Barbie won’t either.” The doll that has been shaping women’s body images for decades has finally expanded their collection. Announced last Tuesday, Mattel’s new line of Barbie dolls now come in three different body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, 14 “face sculpts,” and 24 hairstyles.
For many years, the Barbie doll has been the center of criticism for setting an unrealistic standard of beauty for children to obtain. For many children, the common Barbie was not one they could relate to. As a result, this led to low self-esteem and body image issues among many young girls. The doll that once portrayed a narrow body image ideal now promotes that any combination of body type or skin tone is beautiful.
Mattel has received much praise on social media following the announcement of the new dolls. Parents are ecstatic about this change because their children will now be playing with dolls that they are better able to connect with. On National Public Radio, a young woman recalls memories of the lengths her mother went to find the toy stores selling “black Barbies” in order for her to be able to relate to her doll.
“She never explained why — and I never asked — but as an adult I understand that she knew it was crucial for me, a black girl coming of age in the ‘90s, to own dolls that looked like me,” said the young woman. With the new collection, parents will not have to go through the troubles that this parent did to find dolls resembling their children.
According to USA Today, not only is the new Barbie doll helping boost young girls’ self-esteem, but also “the new toys allow ‘the product line to be a better reflection of what girls see in the world around them’.” This broader view of beauty encourages greater acceptance of people with different backgrounds. Additionally, “It’s important for young boys to understand women’s bodies come in all shapes and sizes because ‘they grow up expecting girls’ bodies to look a certain way’.”
Not only does this new collection expand on the different types of body images, but it also expands on Barbie’s career opportunities. Young children playing with the toy are able to believe they can achieve any career goal they desire. It also encourages women to step outside the normal occupations associated with their gender. Mattel has been using the marketing campaign, “Imagine the Possibilities,” to showcase these changes. In these advertisements, young girls are shown picturing themselves in a variety of career opportunities.
The company had been experiencing a decrease in sales over the last few years. While it can be attributed to the shift to more electronic toys, Mattel is hoping the release of the new dolls will help increase sales again. Currently the new line of Barbies is only available for purchase online, but will be in stores beginning March 2016.