For years, there’s been an ongoing debate about breastfeeding in public, and this prompted Betty Strachan to create a Barbie doll in support of her cause – the “Mamas Worldwide Barbie.” For her, the breastfeeding dolls represent mothers today.
The 28-year-old mother from Australia has been making custom dolls ever since she gave birth to her two children. She told the Independent that there’s a seemingly lack of diversity in Barbie dolls. Strachan got worried that such a lack of diversity could jeopardize the self-esteem of young ones.
“I noticed that the lack of diversity could be potentially damaging psychologically. A girl with brown skin and dark eyes may look at a light skinned doll and wonder why it’s classed as beautiful and she is not.”
To model a latched baby, Strachan made use of an old figurine she found at home. She then opted to sell her pieces on Etsy, and they quickly caught the fancy of mothers. Apart from the breastfeeding doll, she has also created pregnant dolls. She hopes more dolls like hers would come out. She believes that “educating children is the way to erase the stigma” when it comes to things that society has labeled unacceptable.
The stay-at-home mother also told People that she was inspired to create the doll after being humiliated because of breastfeeding in public.
“I remember one occasion when I was out shopping with friends and my oldest who was about two weeks old at the time became fussy. The shopping center we were in was very busy and the parents’ room they reserve for taking care of babies was too full to sit and feed there, so I was left with no other option but to do it standing in the secluded corner of a store. Even then, the disgusted looks I received from passers by were quite jarring and marred the experience for me.”
It appears that Mattel is also exceeding its boundaries. Gone are the days when the only Barbie children know about is the blonde and statuesque beauty. Earlier this year, Mattel unveiled three new dolls: petite, tall, and curvy. For Mattel, the makeover is essential to make the dolls’ reflection of today’s women more accurate.
Recently, the company also created a lookalike doll of Ashley Graham. The model specifically requested that the doll must have no thigh gap and that it should bear cellulite. Mattel was able to comply with her first request, but they did not push through with the cellulite as it might appear as a manufacturing flaw.
Nonetheless, the 28-year-old is pleased. She told Sports Illustrated that it’s an honor to be a part of something that helps create a “more inclusive world.”
“I’m thrilled Barbie has not only evolved their product, but also has continued to honor women who are pushing boundaries. It’s an honor to be immortalized in plastic.”
Graham maintains that the “Barbie body” is unattainable, but she is positive that Mattel’s continuous efforts to release unique dolls will send an empowering message to girls – that they can be beautiful regardless of what the society dictates. This is the same message that the upcoming Barbie live-action film aims to impart.
Amy Schumer is set to play the lead role. She’s a doll who lives in Barbieland that features all the Barbie characters of the toy line. Regardless of how glamorous Barbieland is, Schumer’s character is not completely happy because she doesn’t fit in. She’s far from being prim and proper.
While little is still known about the film, some already lauded Schumer for she’s an advocate for body acceptance. Barbie is no stranger to criticisms for setting unrealistic body standards, but with the upcoming movie, young viewers will realize that there’s beauty in imperfections.
For Mattel to not witness a dramatic slump in its sales, it has to release dolls that young consumers can relate to. After all, there is an array of progressive dolls which parents find apt for their children. Some of these Barbie alternatives are Tree Change Dolls, One World Dolls, American Girl Mini Dolls, and Lottie Dolls.
[Featured Image by Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images]