New Barbie, embracing diversity?

Mattel announced this week that they are launching a new range of Barbie’s with variations of body size and ethnicity. I’ve seen lots of comment on social media about new Barbie, people seem to love them or hate them. I thought I’d give me 2 pence worth.

If you haven’t seem what new Barbie looks like here are some pictures that were featured in the Guardian news paper.

My beef with Barbie

I’ll be honest I’m not Barbie’s biggest fan. With her long blonde hair, tiny waist and pointy boobs to me Barbie represents quite a narrow ideal of beauty. I wasn’t very keen on Sofia to play with Barbie and had deliberately not bought her a Barbie doll. I played with dolls when I was little but was firmly on team Cindy (interestingly Cindy Dolls must have been a bit of a different shape as Barbie clothes were always too small for her).

Barbie obsession

Sofia has completely different ideas – Sofia bloody loves Barbie! I did resist for quite a long time but this only made Sofia more desperate for a Barbie. Sofia had two Disney Princess dolls and a Sparkle Girl doll – which are all quite similar to Barbie so it started to get a bit pointless to refuse. Sofia eventually bent my mum’s ear and she bought her a Barbie for Christmas (she did ask me if it was okay first).

I spent ages looking for the least trashy clothes that I could find for Sofia’s new Barbie. Surely they do scientist Barbie, fire fighter Barbie, explorer Barbie? If they do I couldn’t find them in any of our local shops.

Introducing diversity

I was pleased to see the pictures of the new diverse Barbie dolls. The new variations are the biggest change to Barbie’s design since 1959. There is one that is shorter than average, taller than average and more curvy than the traditional shape. There are now also 7 different skin tones and 24 different hair types. I like the idea that there is a bit of variety – the Barbie aisle is all a bit blonde and samey (don’t get me started on why everything has to be pink!). Sales of Barbie have been in decline for some time so there will clearly be a profit motive behind these changes.

What is fascinating are the comments that have been posted online about new Barbie. A lot of people are very pro new Barbie saying that they love that the dolls look more like real people and that a change is long overdue. These changes are possibly more about appealing to modern mums who are concerned about Barbie’s unrealistic body shape. The more cynical have pointed out that having different body shapes will give Mattel more opportunities to sell more Barbie clothes – you’ll need extra kit for your curvy, petite and taller dolls. Lots of people have pointed out that they played with Barbie and never aspired to look like her and doubted Barbie has any influence at all.

One comment that I do agree with is that it is parents job to teach our kids about healthy body image and there is only so much influence that you can attribute to the dolls that your kids play with (here’s a recent post about this Body Image Lessons for my Daughter).

As for Sofia’s Barbie. Letting her have one has taken away some of the Barbie fascination. She does play dressing her up and will put her with her soft toys in bed. On Saturday we made a zip line for Barbie and tried to zoom her down the stairs (she may be dressed really girly but she is quite the stunt woman).

Sofia’s stunt Barbie

The dolls go on sale in the UK in March 2016 – will you be buying one? I think I’ll get one or two to add a bit of diversity to Sofia’s doll collection.

28 thoughts on “New Barbie, embracing diversity?

    1. I totally agree that it is our job to teach our children about diversity and accepting difference. It is heart breaking that your daughter has suffered because some parents are not educating their children well. I think having diverse Barbie will back up the messages we are giving to our kids.

  1. I was obsessed with Barbie when I was younger. I had so many of them and loved dressing them up. I am really glad that they’ve started to diversify. I think it’s good to finally have some dolls that represent true bodies, yet are still desirable for little ones to play with. xx
    Chloe recently posted…WHATEVER THE WEATHER #28My Profile

  2. It’s about time Barbie gets a bit of variety! I’m looking forward to seeing more realistic looking dolls. I really love the Lottie dolls because they look like little girls. I hope Barbie will do something similar – maybe not have them all stand on toes either. Although our daughter adores her Barbie dolls! x
    Becky, Cuddle Fairy recently posted…Blogger Club UK Linky 3My Profile

    1. Yes the standing on their toes things is so odd. I’ll have to check out Lottie dolls I haven’t come across them yet.

  3. I really really love the new Barbie designs! They’re different and engaging. Growing up I struggled to tell some of my barbies apart – I mean they were all blonde and skinny. The diversity is a very positive step forward.

  4. I’m not sure what I think about it – aren’t they Barbie, i.e. one person? So why is there a number of dolls that all look different? Are they going to be given different names? I realise there should be a drive with mass toy production to create dolls/figures of all sex, race, height, size, etc. to show our children that everyone is equal. I’m just not so sure how it’ll wash with the Barbie trade.

    1. I know what you mean I think it would be better if they had different names to make them different people.

    1. I totally agree it is for me to teach my daughter about diversity and positive body image. I like it that Barbie, however small an impression she makes, is giving the same message.

  5. I loved Barbie dolls when I was little and my 4 year old daughter also loves them and disney dolls. I personally never thought I wanted to be thin & have long blonde hair like barbie when I was younger but I think its great that they are varying ethnicity. I will be buying some to add diversity to her collection xx

  6. I think this is a great idea!! It is great to have more realistic looks and also it is very important to have variation as they were look too identical. I was a fan of Barbies when I was young and I had lots but also because we were 3 sisters playing together all the time. I have some great memories playing with my sisters with our Barbies for hours. So when Bella was ready for Barbies we bought her a couple and then my mum and my sisters got her a few too so she already has a small collection. I would definitely buy the new Barbies when they are out. :- ) xx
    A Moment with Franca recently posted…Valentine’s WishlistMy Profile

    1. Sofia is looking forward to getting some of these new dolls – I think a bit of variety in her collection is a great thing.

  7. I was never allowed Barbie when I was little as my feminist mum didn’t agree with her (much to my disappointment!, I did once get a sindy though with Weetabix tokens!) I love the idea of these new ones! x

  8. I also preferred Cindy when I was little, I though she was prettier! But also more realistic. It’s great to see the diversity in body shape, but I think this should of happened a long time ago x

  9. I loved Barbie as a child, and whilst I never wanted to look like her, body issues were much less commonly talked about then. Only a handful of girls in secondary school wore make up, and nobody was bothered about putting on a pair of shorts for PE. Now you see ten year olds with a face of make up and a zillion beauty products to make you look ‘better’, so those saying its ridiculous to think Barbie will effect how little girls look at body image, we live in a different age now, and I am all for the new diversified Barbie.
    Clare recently posted…Ordinary Moments #3 Cherishing EllisMy Profile

    1. Don’t get me started on those over made up Bratz dolls! I think diversity in kids toys is a great thing.

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