Mattel revealed last week that Barbie, after 57 years, is getting an extreme makeover. (Hallelujah!) Yes, the iconic, yet highly disproportionate doll that millions of girls worldwide have played with over the course of six decades, myself included, will now be come in three new body types: tall, petite, and curvy. (The original uber hourglass shape figure Barbie will still be available, too.) Barbie dolls will also be available in seven skin tones, twenty two different eye colors, and twenty four different hair styles. Once they are all rolled out, there will be a total of thirty three distinctively different dolls. I, myself, think it's about damn time.
As a kid, I loved my Barbies. My room was a virtual Barbieville. I had the Dream House, the swimming pool, the metallic pink Corvette, and at least two dozen Barbie dolls. Of all my Barbies, my favorite was Malibu Barbie. Despite her blonde hair, blue eyes, and unrealistic body dimensions, I gravitated to her for several reasons. First, she appeared to be a tomboy and wasn't all "glammed up," like the other Barbies, which was something I could definitely relate to given that I was a tomboy. During play, I portrayed her going to college, playing sports, and surfing, which were things that I envisioned I would do one day. The second reason, as crazy as this may sound, is because she had a tan. Of all the Barbie's in my collection, her skin tone most closely matched that of my own and I identified with her because of that.
The new Barbies are said to arrive in stores sometime in March. Even though they haven't hit the shelves yet, they're already drawing criticism from those who think the whole Barbie body dimension/body image controversy is just a bunch of hooey.
I'm a stocky, stout woman and I was a stocky, stout kid. Even though I played with Barbies, I never aspired to look like her. I may have been a kid, but even then I knew her proportions were seriously out of whack. I can attest that playing with Barbies did not lower my self esteem or cause me to have a poor body image. But, I also grew up in a time when girls weren't under a constant barrage from the media and society as to what the "ideal" female body should look like as girls are today.
I applaud Mattel for finally recognizing that people come in all different shapes and sizes and such a popular and influential toy such as Barbie should too. And despite what the critics claim, Barbie may just be a doll, but she has been very influential in a positive nature in the lives of countless young girls. Barbie has been portrayed in many careers, sometimes years before women broke through the glass ceiling and attained those positions in real life. In 1965, Astronaut Barbie was released, inspiring young girls to dream of space exploration. Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, did not do so until 1983. I've always wondered if Sally Ride played with an astronaut Barbie when she was a child.
Over the years, Barbie has been a college graduate (1963), a surgeon (1973), doctor (1988), a pilot (1990), a police officer (1993), a firefighter (1995), a NASCAR driver (1998), a professional WNBA player (1999), and, one of my personal favorites, a pants-suit wearing Presidential Candidate (2004) - all careers and positions that have historically been dominated by men.
(On a side note, as a self-admitted tomboy, it's nice to see Barbie wearing something other than a dress or skirt.)
In this day and age where children are exposed to so many adverse influences, positive role models, especially diverse role models, even if they are toys, should be welcomed and praised.
FYI...According to a 2013 Daily Mail article and a Get Real Barbie Fact Sheet, the dimensions of the traditional Barbie would equate to a real, living, breathing woman who is 5' 9 and who has a 16 -18 inch waist and a 22 inch head!
What are you thoughts on the new Barbie? As always, thanks for stopping by.
Linking up with Kristin @ See You in a Porridge