She might be 56 years old, but Barbie hasn’t changed up her look in years. Until now that is – Barbie manufacturers Mattel have unveiled a new line of dolls, entitled “Fashionistas”, which come in a range of body types (think tall, curvy or petite) and seven different skin tones. An enormous selection of hair and eye colours will also be available, making the dolls more customisable and, therefore, more accessible than ever.
The announcement comes following years of criticism surrounding the exaggerated proportions of the original doll – if you scaled up her proportions, Barbie’s initial waistline would be just 18". Her new measurements are more realistic, but the mainstream fascination surrounding the doll’s status as a role model for young girls means that Barbie has, ironically, one of the most-criticised bodies in society.
This fact is alluded to by a new TIME magazine cover, emblazoned with the headline “Now can we stop talking about my body?” An in-depth feature accompanies the photograph, detailing the motivation behind the new range as well as the position of Barbie as an icon.
After last year saw the first boy in a Barbie advert, these new dolls mark a step forward in the fight for body-positivity. Despite her ridiculous proportions, the original Barbie, with her golden hair, svelte frame and tanned skin, is seen to be emblematic of the predominant beauty ideals in Western society. The introduction of variety means that young girls can now select their own perception of perfection; one which is far more relatable than the 56-year old icon of old. Still, there’s work to be done – Curvy Barbie may not have an 18” waist, but she’s far from plus size...