According to Vice News, in 2015, Barbie broke out of her usual role as a childhood toy and became a video blogger. But how in the world does a doll have a vlog? A multi-person team, a black suit, and some animation.
In some ways, a day on set of Barbie’s vlog is starkly different from those of typical YouTubers. The girl behind the doll is America Young, who has been wearing a “motion-capture suit” since the vlog’s creation three years ago. As Young acts out what’s been prepared for Barbie that day, the team of animators bring on-screen Barbie to life. Once the final touches are in place, Barbie looks like your everyday, modern vlogger.
Mattel decided to have Barbie start her own vlog due to a two-decade sales decrease. Their sales were declining because of the increase in technology; simply put, “kids weren’t playing with [Barbie] like they used to…they want[ed] iPads, instead.” Mattel knew how popular vlogging and YouTubing had become, so rather than trying to beat them, they joined them. And they made an accurate assessment, since sales are back up since Barbie got behind the webcam.
Typically, Barbie is seen sitting at her desk in her pink-clad room covering an array of topics. She discusses the latest fads, issues surrounding mental health and self esteem, and even gives tours of her house. In a recent video, she talked about how she “challenged her friends and sisters to go a whole day without saying ‘sorry’ as a reflex.” Sometimes Ken even makes an appearance, like in a recent post where they filmed a cooking tutorial together.
However, Barbie’s voice is limited to cooking, make-up, and all-inclusive conversations, and will not span into the realm of social activism. According to Vice, Mattel’s executive producer, Julia Pistor, said she doesn’t “feel comfortable having a conversation that would give Barbie a singular point of view, because [Mattel is] about bringing everybody together.” If Barbie takes a stance on a highly polarizing political issue, she risks losing fans and followers, a result which would be counterproductive, since her vlog was meant to “translate into cash.”
YouTube is not the only millennial format that Barbie uses. She’s also on Instagram, solidifying herself as one of the most “woke” 59-year-olds to date, and allowing her millions of fans to have access to her Mattel-created, hip life.