Barbie was born on March 9, 1959 as she debuted at the American International Toy Fair at New York, making her way into the hearts of millions of young girls. Since then, the doll underwent some minimal changes, but still rocked that 36 inch chest and 18 inch waist. Did I mention that she's 5'9"? This, unfortunately, did leave an unfavorable impression of what the female body should look like. People like Ukrainian model Valeria Lukyanova have Barbie Syndrome, in which they undergo the knife to emulate the popular icon.
Needless to say, Barbie has her share of controversies over the years as well. For example, the 1963 "Barbie Baby-Sits" doll was accompanied with a book titled How to Lose Weight that advised readers not to eat. Furthermore, the book made another appearance in an ensemble called "Slumber Party" in 1965 and was accompanied by a scale set at 110 pounds. However, in 1977, Barbie's waist became slightly larger in order to be better suited for contemporary fashion designs.
According to chocolatedoll, the first black barbie was a spin-off of Francie, also known as Colored Francie. She was shorter and is supposedly Barbie's European cousin. Despite her dark skin, the doll was essentially made from the same mold as her lighter skinned counterpart; basically, she lacked any notable African American features which led to her being pulled in 1976. As a result, the Black Barbie was born in 1980.
The impossible Barbie, as I like to call it, with her stick legs and strange, unrealistic body proportions may soon be at the end of her reign of almost five decades with the latest Barbies Mattel has recently released. With three new body types, seven new skin tones, and 24 different hair styles, these updates reflect the company's new direction of a "broader type of beauty" that embraces diversity and positive self image.
It's about time
(no pun intended).
Mattel says that their new range "was designed to promote a healthy and realistic body image and would better reflect the diversity of those who play with the dolls. Additionally, senior Vice President and Barbie's global general manager, Evelyn Mazzocco, says: "We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand - these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them - the variety in body type, skin tones, and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them."
With these new changes, this could possibly appease the parents of today as well since they're more aware of sensitive topics like the projection of body image and the consequences of photoshop.
Liam Preston, spokesman for the YMCA's Be Real Campaign sums it up nicely:
We know that children are affected from a young age by the images around them. We have research that says young girls as young as five years old are worried about the way they look and their size. Moe so that ever, everywhere they go young people are bombarded with images of photoshopped women, who have shapes that are just not real and not healthy and that is a big issue for us. It's so important that young people embrace diversity and feel happy with who they are, and the doll Mattel are looking to do could really help that. I hope this is the first step for a change in the children's market overall.