Childrearing

Barbie Dolls Have a Range of Body Types Now, and That’s Fantastic

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barbie-fashionista-new-body(Via Twitter/Mattel)

Mattel revealed awesome news yesterday: Barbie now comes in a range of body types. The Barbie Fashionista line already has an array of skin colors and hair colors and types–and even feet that are not automatically positioned for high heels–and now it features dolls with four body types, too. The original Barbie body is still there, and now dolls are also available in tall, curvy, and petite. It’s great news, and pretty darn refreshing. The weird sameness of all the Barbie figures had for years made the line feel a bit like a retro throwback. They seemed like the toy equivalent of a 50s-theme diner, but without the self-awareness.

Now kids will be more able to find dolls that look like them, if that’s what they’re looking for, but they’ll also be able to assemble cool doll squads where not everybody looks exactly the same, and that’s pretty fantastic. Uniformity is boring.

Of course, Mattel is not a charity. Mattel wants to sell toys and make money, and the company is hoping this will help them do more of that. According to the New York Times, Barbie used to be Mattel’s powerhouse brand, but sales have plummeted as kids just weren’t interested in the line anymore.

“It’s hardly a bolt of genius to say let’s make dolls that look different,” said analyst Sean McGowan “It’s more like saying ‘Yeah, we stuck with that one single iconic image for too long, let’s try multiple ones.’ ”

It will remain to be seen how well the new line will do, but a lot of the response has been very positive, especially among younger mothers. Completely anecdotally, I think every single person on my Twitter feed is obsessed with that curvy, blue-haired Barbie in the promotional image.

Of course there are plenty of people criticizing Mattel for the move, because God forbid kids have the option of playing with a toy that doesn’t look exactly like it did in 1970. The old Barbie body is still out there, but now there are other bodies too, and that means America is being ruined because change is bad and kids should want exactly the toys their parents liked, participation trophies are falling from the sky, and all our kids are turning into iPhones, and what the hell is with Minecraft, anyway?

There’s certainly some pearl-clutching and garment-rending going on over on Twitter (Kirstie Alley is mad, everybody) but for the most part people seem to be really intrigued by the new doll options. A lot of mothers are stoked about Barbie’s much-needed update, and it seems like this will appeal to their kids as well. Kids today expect choices and customization, and this is definitely a move in the right direction.