So Barbie now has a new body type. It made news back in January (see this link) and while I wanted to write about it then, time eluded me. So I’m going to enjoy a little bit of time, sitting to write now.
So why is Barbie’s body type important? IS it important?
I guess it depends on how you look at it.
You can read the Wikipedia link to see the full history of Barbie. Her origins go back as far as Germany when a business woman from America named Ruth Handler traveled there and found exactly what she’d been thinking she would like to have designed for her daughter. Ms. Handler had noticed that most toy representations for young girls were all infants and that her daughter often made paper dolls and gave them adult roles. It was a gap that Ms. Handler realized was there, though her husband who worked for Mattel was not very enthusiastic about the idea.
But a longer story made shorter, the idea the Ms. Handler had finally came to fruition in March of 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York.
As a young girl of the 70s and 80s who avidly played with Barbie, I remember one of my first dolls being “Malibu Barbie” who was the stereotypical Malibu girl: skinny, blond, blue-eyed and sun-tanned. I remember saving my money to purchase the dolls I wanted and my Christmas presents from friends and family were often Barbie related. I was never one to play much with baby dolls. While I had them, I preferred Barbie. I never recall thinking that my body had to look like hers. What I recall drawing me more, was the fact that Barbie encouraged me that I could be whatever I wanted to be, my career opportunities were unlimited. Barbie served in job roles from a McDonald’s cook to an Astronaut! Honestly I remember thinking, dreaming and believing that I can do anything I set my mind to. I still hold that mindset today. Will I become an astronaut? No, of course not. But if I’m setting my mind on bettering myself, becoming a veterinarian, a doctor, or an entrepreneur. I could and can. My current aspirations are that in marketing as a entrepreneur. I’ve invested in myself and my education. I’m determined to set goals and achieve them. My parents have had a huge roll in shaping my values to be that way, so I won’t give Barbie all the credit for that because let’s face it, she’s a doll…
I will say that I found this video which kind of sums up those thoughts which is what the Ruth Handler envisioned: “My whole philosophy of Barbie was that, through the doll, the girl could be anything she wanted to be. Barbie always represented the fact that a woman has choices.“- RUTH HANDLER, BARBIE CREATOR
It will be interesting to see if this will improve their sales. I’ve always been a Barbie fan. I watched a video with some little girls playing with the dolls, they said, “It’s not Barbie.”
So has her body shape REALLY influenced girls’ self-esteem like the media wants you to believe? They say Barbie has unrealistic proportions, but come on… she’s a TOY! Do any of the action figures have realistic proportions with their bulging muscles? I remember watching the old Batman Series on TV when he was a “normal” shaped guy, but then when the movies came out, he got “beefy/muscular”. But I don’t recall an outcry about that. Maybe it’s because he was a superhero… Anyways, at least Barbie can officially say, “Now, will you stop talking about my body!?”
I do think it’s neat though to have a variation in dolls. I was excited the first time I saw a dark haired Barbie. And one of my FAVORITE dolls I had growing up was a Hispanic Barbie with her spanish-styled clothes and dark hair and brown eyes.
So are you rushing out to get a Barbie with a new body type?