Earlier this month, Mattel released a new line of Barbie products in order to increase sales and skyrocket past other toy companies in terms of productivity. With the creation of new “girl toys” by the Lego Co., Lego surpassed Mattel in sales and became the biggest toy company in the world in 2014.
According to Time Magazine, in order to increase the relationship with Barbie that many girls possess, a design team was given the option to change the Barbie line, thinking, “If you could start the brand over today and you didn’t have any rules, you could do whatever you wanted, what would you do?”
Mattel’s design of the evolved Barbie includes four new body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. This two-year secret design project was called “Project Dawn.”
Evelyn Mazzocco, general manager of the Barbie company, said on a recent Facebook video that the idea was “inspired by sales” as well as “what we’re seeing on social media about Barbie.” Barbie is a fashion icon and is supposed to be an inspiration for younger girls to pursue any dream they wish to achieve.
However, some people believe that she is a “bad role model for girls; she represents an unrealistic body type,” Mazzocco said.
In an attempt to increase Barbie’s relevance to young girls’ lives today, Mattel has gone to great lengths to create a more realistic body type. For instance, the “tall” and “curvy” dolls have a larger foot than the original Barbie. The new clothes for each Barbie may not fit perfectly throughout all of the dolls.
Allison Pugh, a freshman elementary education major from Birmingham, believes that “celebrating all types of beauty” is a “really good idea.”
Barbie was a prominent toy in Pugh’s life, and she added, “Occasionally I would want to have one look like me.”
Even though Barbie’s proportions could be interpreted as a “must have” for some women, Pugh never believed that Barbie was the standard.
“Personally, I never felt pressured to look like Barbie,” Pugh said. “If her dimensions were real, she would look really weird.”
Overall, Pugh was positive about the change in the Mattel Co. “Little girls can now have a Barbie doll that looks just like them,” Pugh said.
There has been an expression of discomfort with Mattel’s decision to include various versions of beauty, however.
Various people think that creating “realistic” body type creates an achievable standard for beauty, therefore reinforcing the idea that young girls must look like Barbie because it is now an attainable look.
Racheal Reeves, a sophomore social work major from Dothan, disagrees.
“They’re just trying to be more inclusive,” Reeves said. “Regardless of what the Barbie organization does, they’re not going to reach every single body type, every single hair color or every single eye color.”
Reeves also tackles the idea that the toy company’s reason for restarting the Barbie brand was to boost sales rather than its main goal being to empower women.
“They’re a toy company — of course they’re going to want to boost sales; that’s obvious,” Reeves said.
However, there is no denying that Mattel’s altered perspective is going to have a positive impact on young girls’ lives.
“The kids will definitely notice it,” she said. “They have different things to strive for.” Reeves said a positive message is set in a young girl’s mind —“this Barbie looks like me now, so I’m obviously pretty.”
Personally, the extent to which I was jealous of Barbie was when I wished I could live in an enormous house and have all of the clothes I desired. I knew that I would never have blond hair or bright blue eyes or be able to stand on my tiptoes all day.
Instead, I looked for Barbies that looked like me, with brunette hair and gray eyes.
With Barbie continuously changing, it brings hope to younger and older girls that all body types, skin tones and hairstyles are accepted and cherished.
I think Mattel did a marvelous job incorporating all types of beauty into its stock, and as a result, consumer excitement will contribute to the company’s prospering and sale increase.
“A blond-haired, blue-eyed Barbie is still beautiful, just like the more curvier Barbie with dark hair and darker skin is just as beautiful,” Mazzocco said.
I am excited that Mattel realizes this crucial view, as it will play into the lives of young girls for years to come.