The evolution of Barbie is here—and it’s about time. When I was little, I always knew Barbie as the tall, skinny, blue eyed, blonde-haired plastic doll that I loved to play with. Now, Barbie is going to come with different shapes, sizes, eye colors and hair colors. Known as the Barbie Fashionistas Dolls, these Barbies will come in four different body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. Now, kids of all different body types and races will be able to relate to these dolls that they use for imaginary escape.
Playing with Barbies was like flipping through a high-fashion magazine full of gorgeous, skinny, tall models. Though I loved Barbie, I certainly could never relate to her. I was short with brown, curly hair—basically the opposite of Barbie. And even though Barbie is an inanimate object, I admired her and wanted to be—and more specifically, look—like her. But it was impossible for me to suddenly grow into a taller girl and sprout long, blonde hair.
Kids who play with Barbies will be able to relate to these Fashionista Dolls more so than kids of my generation. In an age where you read articles about young kids being ashamed of their bodies and wishing they were 10 pounds lighter, Barbie is making a critical change at an important time.
Growing up in the digital age, kids are constantly influenced by what they see in the media and sometimes it’s hard for me to even believe that kids still play with Barbies when everything has become so technology-based. Time and time again, kids are shown what is considered to be beautiful through the narrow social constructs imposed by the media and this can lead to issues with self-esteem and body shaming.
Barbie, however, is stepping away from pushing only a singular idea of beauty onto kids. It’s vital for the younger generation to recognize that beauty comes in all forms and that accepting your body type is something to be proud of. It’s sickening that toys and the media teach girls and boys to be humiliated by their bodies and that these confidence issues are being perpetuated in kids at such early ages.
Some may argue that the creation of Barbie Fashionistas Dolls is misguided and that it’s purely stemmed from Mattel’s desire for a financial boost. While this may be true, there is no harm in these new Barbies—the ends justify the means. Encouraging kids to be proud of the bodies that they were born with is something to be applauded. It’ll be intriguing to see kids’ reactions to these new Barbies and how they influence their own self-images over time.
From a young age, kids are very impressionable. They’re taking in everything around them from the toys they play with to the programs they watch on television. Barbie Fashionistas Dolls could have the power to set a precedent for other children’s toys in protecting kids from body shaming. If other toys and television shows join Barbie in the quest to show acceptance of all body types and skin colors, then perhaps this would impede the growing trend of low self-confidence.
I’m impressed with Mattel’s decision to develop these new Barbie dolls and I hope that they can inspire a real change in kids that play with them. In fact, I wish they were around when I was a kid and I’m sure many of my childhood friends would agree with this sentiment.