Barbie is getting a new body. Actually, she is getting three new body types, announced Mattel in a Time article. For the first time since her inception, the Barbie doll body choices will be curvy, tall, petite or traditional.
Barbie’s body has always been controversial from the very beginning. Based on Lilli, an adult German doll that was handed out as a prostitute gag gift at bachelor parties, she made her debut in 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York. Many parents were unhappy at the time that she sported distinct breasts.
Another common complaint Barbie has endured is that children see her as a role model, absorbing her body dimensions as normal. However, if Barbie was life-sized, she would be 5 feet 9 inches, with a 36-inch bust, 18-inch waist, and 33-inch hips. Wikipedia reports that with these measurements, Barbie would be underweight and not have enough body fat (under 17 percent) to menstruate. Parents were concerned that the underweight Barbie doll would promote anorexia because of the unrealistic body design.
To add to the weight controversy, a Barbie doll outfit that was sold in 1963 enclosed a booklet called “How To Lose Weight.” The suggestion given was “Don’t eat!”
The following year the “Slumber Party” ensemble was sold, which came with a pink bathroom scale. The weight permanently shown on the scale was 110 pounds, which would make life-sized Barbie 35 pounds underweight.
Although Barbie’s body mold was redesigned in 1997 to give her a larger waist, the new body types are by far the largest change in Barbie’s history.
Barbie’s New Body
Mattel hopes that Barbie’s new body makeover, along with new hair textures and skin tones that were ushered in last year will pump up the sagging sales the company has been experiencing. A 20 percent loss in the two years from 2012 to 2014 meant massive action needed to be taken, reports Time.
Barbie has had some competition in the toy market. The bug-eyed, make-up plastered Bratz girls were taking over the older-girl demographics while the Elsa doll from the movie Frozen tossed Barbie off the top spot as the most popular girl’s toy.
Elsa may look similar to Barbie, but her story includes strength and sisterhood, which resonates with today’s moms and daughters. Evelyn Mazzocco, head of the Barbie brand commented on the subject.
“The millennial mom is a small part of our consumer base, but we recognize she’s the future.”
Other Disney Princesses added to Barbie’s competition in the younger girl crowd with an estimated total revenue loss of $500 million to Mattel.
In addition, American beauty ideals are changing, with more curvaceous bodies, such as Kim Kardashian, becoming popular in the mainstream media.
Jess Weiner is a branding consultant and expert who has worked with Mattel spoke about Barbie’s issues, reports Time.
“Barbie has all this baggage. Her status as an empowered woman has been lost.”
With this in mind, the design team took a fresh approach to redesigning Barbie to match today’s expectations. Out of this exercise came many suggestions on top of the body change. Less makeup, articulated ankles so Barbie could wear flat shoes, not just high heels were some of the suggestions.
The Barbie Doll Body Gets New Shoe Sizes
Barbie will now have two shoe sizes — one for petite and original and the other for tall and curvy body types. Figuring out how to label the two different shoe sizes was a nightmare. Barbie designer Robert Best explains.
“We can’t label them 1, 2, because someone will read into that as saying one’s better than the other. Plus, we have to put the Barbie branding on every single object, and the shoes are so tiny.”
They finally decided to put Barbie’s face on one size and a B for the other, reports Time.
The new body shapes are available online beginning today at Barbie.com and will be available in retail stores later in the year.
Will you purchase one of these new Barbies? What do you think of the Barbie doll’s new body types?
[Image via Twitter]