Hip, hip, hooray! (Barbie’s got hips)


Mattel announced today that it is now offering Barbie dolls in three new body types: tall, curvy and petite. The move is widely presumed to be a response to long-standing calls for the dolls to better represent “real” women, including flattening her feet so she can wear something other than high heels.

According to Yahoo! News, Mattel spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni claimed the brand wanted “the product line to be a better reflection of what girls see in the world around them.”

What do you think: is this a savvy move for the brand, or too little, too late? What does it say that we still distill a doll down to her body, rather than the imagination of the child playing with it? Do children need to see “representative” dolls?

Note too, in the Time magazine article, that the company not only had to find three “appropriate” words for the three new body types, but translate them to international audiences without offending anyone – no small feat for a global brand.


Barbie’s Got a New Body




2 thoughts on “Hip, hip, hooray! (Barbie’s got hips)

  1. AmyOriental

    I think it is very appropriate and gaining competitive advantages by adopting to varies value on beauties: bodytypes, hairstyles, dress code (flatten feet). Personally, many of us are dreaming of the standard but unrealistic western babies: straight, long and blonde hair, slim bodytype in childhood. And we tends to consider that is the only way to express beauty while ignored may others given by our parents. It actually distorted beauty and rooted the narrowed perspective in children’s heart. Especially in girls 13-24, they might experience a series of psychological changes with unhealthy actions for self-esteem and self-actualization: losing weight to skinny by executing extremely unhealthy diet, dye hair as barbies’, or using very pale foundation makeup and avoid adequate sunshine in summer.

    While the 3 new trends adequately expressed the variety of ethics, bodytypes and lifestyles, hope young girls will all find themselves from barbies rather than being slave of certain narrowed valued beauty.

  2. Erin Cronin

    I think this is definitely a step in the right direction for the Barbie brand as it does give children a view of the body outside of the narrow definition of “perfection” that had been instilled, and still is, in our minds. With that said, however, I think the emphasis on the body of the doll is blinding us to the fact that there are still many controversial aspects of Barbie. One being that for a brand like this to be “representative” of women as a whole, emphasis must not only be instilled onto the body, but rather other things such as lifestyle, occupation, etc. One of the main issues circling Barbie that have been discussed prominently and in a variety of my classes is that of it continuing to reinforce gender bias and socialization. Yes, it is true that they are taking a small step in the right direction with the introduction of new body types, but it is still reinforcing the idea of emphasized femininity, where girls play with dolls that, although now with curves and shape, are still somewhat sexualized and extremely feminine. This may be a concept that is a bit of a stretch and representation may not fully be captured in the eyes of everyone, but I think there is a lot that Barbie needs to incorporate or change in their brand outside of a re-shaping of silhouette in order for it to truly make an impact.


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