After undergoing intense criticism for her disproportionate dimensions and unrealistic body type, Barbie is getting revamped.
Mattel recently released the 2016 Barbie collection. This new version comes in:
• 4 body types (petite, tall, curvy and “standard”)
• Seven skin tones
• 22 eye colors
• 24 hairstyles (inclusive of different textures)
• Flat feet
Mattel states their reason for revamping Barbie and giving her several new looks is to enable the dolls to mimic realistic body standards and reflect the diversity of the children who play with them.
Mattel has also launched a “Sheroes” line which is designed to embody the empowerment message the brand says it stands behind. The new line will honor female heroes who have broken boundaries, challenged gender norms and reinforced the message that girls can do anything. The honorees will have a one-of-a-kind doll fashioned in their likeness.
“Barbie has always represented that girls have choices, and this spring we are proud to honor six Sheroes who through their trade and philanthropic efforts are an inspiration to girls,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, General Manager Barbie. “Started by a female entrepreneur and mother, this brand has a responsibility to continue to honor and encourage powerful female role models who are leaving a legacy for the next generation of glass ceiling breakers.”
The current Sheroes are:
• Ava DuVernay: Director of the Academy Award Best Picture nominee, SELMA, and founder of African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement, which provides opportunities and resources to underrepresented filmmakers.
• Emmy Rossum: Golden Globe® nominated actress and spokesperson for Best Friends Animal Society, and a leader in the no-kill movement.
• Eva Chen: the youngest appointed female Editor-in-Chief of a national fashion magazine, Lucky.
• Kristin Chenoweth: Emmy® and Tony Award® nominee and winner who also founded the Kristin Chenoweth Art & Education Fund.
• Sydney “Mayhem” Keiser: Five year-old fashion designer with work appearing in Vogue and signed on with major national fashion brand, J.Crew, for the collection ‘Little Mayhem for J.Crew’ launching in June.
• Trisha Yearwood: an award-winning Country artist, best-selling author, Food Network host and entrepreneur.
• Misty Copeland: the first black female principal dancer for the American Ballet Theater
While some people are celebrating these historic changes this iconic brand is making, many believe these modifications are in response to the growing criticism the brand has undergone. Mattel has been accused of perpetuating unrealistic, archaic and harmfully stereotypical images of women.
Tina Escaja, interim director of gender, sexuality and women’s studies at the University of Vermont, feels that Barbie dolls are harmful toys.
“The purpose of the toys as models of beauty is problematic and can have an impact on a child’s self-esteem,” Escaja says. “A toy should serve as a medium for the child’s imagination and not as a reinforcement of an unrealistic model … an effort to acknowledge diversity is always positive, but maintaining stereotypes and unhealthy expectations for women is not.”
If the original Barbie were scaled to size she would have the following measurements:
• Height: 5’9”
• Weight: 110 lbs
• Bust: 39”
• Waist: 18”
• Hips: 33:
• Shoe size: 3
With these measurements, she would have a BMI of 16.24 and would be unable to walk upright.
Dustyn Levenson, a University of Rochester sophomore, applauds the attempt, but thinks Barbie dolls objectify women.
“It is still, even with the changes, a toy completely focused on appearance, fashion and other stereotypical interests of women that press the ideal into young girls,” she says. “I still am so against the toy as a whole … there are so many issues with a 3-year-old girl being influenced by a role model who cares about nothing other than exterior values.”
Only time will tell if the new Barbie can shed her old reputation and once again be accepted and adored by mainstream America.
We’ve got to give her credit for trying…