I had a Barbie doll. Just one Barbie. It was Western Barbie. She wore a cowgirl hat and had a checked shirt. I rarely played with her, instead preferring to spend my time with He-Man action figures, Transformers toys and a big box of Lego pieces. I didn’t care for Barbie’s lack of armor or weird feet that couldn’t stand up barefooted.
If I were a kid growing up these days, my Barbie experience might be at least a little different. Toy maker Mattel said Thursday it is introducing three new body types for the Barbie line: tall, petite and curvy. The company is calling it the Barbie Fashionistas series.
My personal indifference to Barbie didn’t make a dent in the doll’s popularity over the years. It was first introduced to the toy world in 1959, back when she looked a bit like Bettie Page. In more recent times, the doll has been scrutinized for embodying unattainable ideals with her impossibly tall, lean, tiny-waisted and big-busted shape.
“Our brand represents female empowerment,” Mattel President and COO Richard Dickson told Time. “It’s about choices. Barbie had careers at a time when women were restricted to being just housewives. Ironically, our critics are the very people who should embrace us.”
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The tall and petite Barbies are just as bean-pole skinny as the original. What strikes me about the “curvy” shape is that she still doesn’t look all that curvy. Next to an original doll, the change is obvious. On her own, she just appears to be approaching a more normal, average body.
These days I spend my time playing with more gadgets than toys. I’m not the target market for these new dolls. If I ever get another Barbie, it will be this DIY Swiss Army Barbie, who has useful implements hidden inside her. I still do kind of miss my He-Man action figures, though. She-Ra, Princess of Power, could kick some serious butt.
The new dolls will likely earn a variety of reactions. Some will applaud the company for trying to make the Barbie line more diverse and inclusive of different body shapes. Some will say it doesn’t got far enough. Some may accuse Mattel of pandering to its critics.
What do you think of the new Barbies? Tell us in the comments.