Mattel releases three new body shapes for Barbie, the world’s best-selling doll. Inside the biggest change in barbie’s 57-year history–and what it says about American beauty ideals
Barbie gets three new bodies : petite, tall and curvy to add to the existing slim waisted barbie currently in the market. The new barbie body shapes reflect diversity, different body sizes and heights.
The creation was kept a secret and before the launch only 20 people in the world knew it existed. The designers while working on it even code-named the endeavour Project Dawn so that even their spouses wouldn’t be tipped off to her existence.
The new body was introduced while they took off the dolls clothes and tried to put on a new dress from the original line. The dress was a blue summery frock, cinched tightly at the waist with a black ribbon, the dress would not fit and everyone in the room wondered why? “Try going feet first,” the lead designer suggested and it still did not work. Her plump bottom gets stuck in the same spot. Yes, plump. Barbie’s got a new body. Three new bodies, actually: petite, tall and curvy, in Mattel’s exhaustively debated lexicon, and beginning Jan. 28 they will be sold alongside the original busty, thin-waisted form on Barbie.com.
They’ll all be called Barbie, but it’s the curvy one—with meat on her thighs and a protruding tummy and behind—that marks the most startling change to the most infamous body in the world.
It’s a massive risk for Mattel. Barbie is more than just a doll. The brand does $1 billion in sales across more than 150 countries annually, and 92% of American girls ages 3 to 12 have owned a Barbie, thanks in part to her affordable $10 price tag. She’s been the global symbol of a certain kind of American beauty for generations, with brand recognition that’s up there with Mickey Mouse. M.G. Lord, a Barbie biographer, once said she was designed “to teach women what—for better or worse—is expected of them in society.”
The company hopes that the new dolls, with their diverse body types, along with the new skin tones and hair textures introduced last year, will more closely reflect their young owners’ world. But the initiative could also backfire—if it’s not too late altogether. Adding three new body types now is sure to irritate someone: just picking out the terms petite, tall and curvy, and translating them into dozens of languages without causing offense, took months. And like me, girls will strip curvy Barbie and try to put original Barbie’s clothes on her or swap the skirts of petite and tall. Not everything will Velcro shut. Fits will be thrown, exasperated moms will call Mattel. The company is setting up a separate help line just to deal with Project Dawn complaints.
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