Thursday morning the world received word that Barbie has a new body; three, in fact.
In an article with TIME, Mattel announced it will start selling the fashion-forward dolls with differing shapes and sizes: tall, curvy and petite. The company will also be adding some diversity into the mix by selling figurines that feature seven skin tones, 22 eye colours and 24 hairstyles.
The move is part of a larger strategy to revamp how the company portrays the iconic figure. In 2015, Mattel unveiled 78 new dolls – some were based on superheros and real teenagers – including one in the likeness of Zendaya Coleman, complete with dreadlocks.
Back in October, the company also released a two-minute commercial called “Imagine the Possibilities.” The short captures five girls playing adult professionals in real-life settings. There’s a college professor, a soccer coach, a veterinarian, a businesswoman, and a tour guide. The video ends with the phrase “You can be anything” as it’s revealed the young girls were actually playing “make believe” with their Barbies the whole time.
Of course, none of these moves have been without criticism. Demi Lovato took to Twitter to lament the Zendaya doll’s figure, and some called into question whether the “Imagine the Possibilities” video could reframe how people think about the character.
The reason for the continuous controversy said Kim Culmone, head of design at Mattel, is that playing with Barbie has always been an exceptionally personal experience. “It’s a personal issue because almost every woman has owned a Barbie, and every woman has some relationship with or opinion about [her].”
If you look at the Twitter reactions to the “new” dolls, that personal connection is clear. While some applauded the move…
Others derided it.
According to Richard Dickson, president and COO of Mattel, it doesn’t much matter what the naysayers say of this move. His goal is to bridge the gap between Barbie lovers and those who feel neutral about her. Speaking to TIME, he said, “Haters are going to hate. We want to make sure the Barbie lovers love us more.”
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