The New Barbie: Does Diversity Matter?

Is the “new” Barbie a meaningful cultural symbol or just an object?

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After 57 years, the classic Barbie body has been completely redesigned. Just a few weeks ago, a whole new line of Barbies was released, and has been a topic of conversation between individuals all over social media.  

When it comes to the many body types, hairstyles, skin tones, eye colors, and facial structures of Barbie, I am all for diversity.”

The new Barbie dolls now come in four different body types including tall, petite, and curvy. Along with the new shapes, seven new skin tones, 22 different eye colors, and 24 hairstyles have been created with the goal of making Barbie more realistic and diverse. Mattel has released some of the newly designed Barbies available for preorder on their online store. These dolls will be in stores March 1. The full line of reconstructed Barbies will be released in its entirety throughout the course of 2016.

As a teenage girl who was practically a Barbie enthusiast as a child, I had mixed feelings toward the new designs of Barbie.

Over the last few years, the company Mattel, creator of the iconic Barbie doll, had noticed a decrease in the sales of Barbie dolls due to children finding interest in different toys. Mattel took the initiative to create something that more young girls could relate to and want to play with.

For decades the company has been criticized for the unrealistic proportions and size of the original Barbie doll. Many critics argue that Barbie creates a standard of beauty that young girls are unable to meet. When it comes to the new doll designs, many observers believe they are a good step towards creating a positive body image to the young children who play with them. Others think of Barbie as just a toy, and not something that children should look up to. And some just hate the idea of changing Barbie altogether.

When it comes to the many body types, hairstyles, skin tones, eye colors, and facial structures of Barbie, I am all for diversity. There is more than one race, and no person looks the same. I think creating the “new” Barbie was a very good move and makes the doll more realistic for its consumers. It also helps to spread a positive message. A message that it is completely okay to be different. A message that there is no ‘form of perfection’ that you should strive for.

Individuals who have influence on the news and media should be taking a stand when it comes to spreading body positivity, so that a doll does not have to. Face it, Barbie is still just an object. ”

Studies show that young girls exposed to the original Barbie dolls experienced lower self esteem and desire for the thin body shape than children who were exposed to dolls with different body types or no dolls at all.

With the new petite, curvy, and tall Barbie dolls, children who play with Barbies will not have to experience the desire of wanting to look like the classic Barbie that has been around for more than five decades. 

On the other hand, the new Barbie designs made me wonder: when did this doll become something that young children look up to?

Individuals who have influence on the news and media should be taking a stand when it comes to spreading body positivity, so that a doll does not have to.

Face it, Barbie is still just an object.