What does Barbie’s first launch of 2020 mean?
White girl, white girl, white girl, white girl….Black girl tucked away on the corner of a shelf. These were my options when my mom told me I could pick out a Barbie doll when I was a child. Tiny waisted with an impressive chest size. Even at a young age, I knew it wasn’t a normal body type to basically have no room for your intestines and other organs. But hey, I went with it, since the pickings were slim. Slim…get it?
Anyways, my awareness of these unrealistic body images grew as I got older, and when I had my own little girl, I realized that this was NOT what I wanted her to play with. This was not the reality I wanted her to internalize in any shape or form.
Change Is A-Coming
To my immense relief, Mattel got their act together and came out with a whole new range of dolls. These new dolls are more representative of our diverse realities than ever before! Thicker waists, bigger thighs, and Mattel didn’t stop there. They now feature dolls with the skin condition vitiligo, which causes patches of skin to lose pigmentation.
Mattel actually worked with a dermatologist to make sure they would feature the skin condition correctly. They also have a doll that has no hair, to represent those who experience hair loss, and just last year, Mattel’s best seller was a doll in a wheelchair.
In total, the Barbie brand will now have 176 dolls. This includes a mix of both female and male with nine different body types ranging from 35 different skin tones and 94 hairdos.
Don’t Forget the Men
Mattel didn’t leave out the options on the male dolls either. Instead of just Ken with his extremely chiseled chest and horrifically broad shoulders, the company has featured male dolls with more realistic toned down muscles, and an array of hairstyles, including cornrows, long hair, man buns and even rainbow hair. Because even boys can play with dolls.
This new 2020 release follows a launch just last September in 2019 where Mattel came out with the gender-neutral dolls. These came with different outfits and even long and short hair extensions so that each child can customize their doll according to their own wants and needs.
Here’s What It All Means
In this day and age, where concepts like body image and representation are finally experiencing a loud revolution, it’s important that large and impression-making toy companies like Mattel finally understand that children are exposed to the harshest realities of the human body.
The rush to be like one in the popular crowd is unforgiving and relentless. This is why I am so glad that Mattel has finally portrayed dolls to be “different.” We can finally see the diversity of our realities. Because being different IS popular, and can be the most beautiful thing. We just have to look beyond limited norms and see what is REAL.