NEW: Changes are "the most dramatic we've ever made," Mattel official says
Company said Thursday Barbie will now come in original, tall, petite and curvy
Girls and women don’t come in one shape, and now, finally, Barbie won’t either.
Now, in addition to the original Barbie – impossibly slender and often parodied – the doll will come in tall, petite and curvy varieties.
Mattel announced the new line Thursday on its website and in a Time magazine article featuring the cover headline, “Now can we stop talking about my body?”
“We have to let girls know it doesn’t matter what shape you come in, that anything is possible,” Tania Missad, director of consumer insights for the doll line, said in a video on the Barbie brand website.
According to Mattel, Barbie will now come in four body types and seven skin tones, with 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. In all, 33 dolls will roll out in stages, spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni said.
The move comes a year after Mattel introduced Barbies with moveable ankles that would allow the dolls to wear flat shoes for the first time.
In June, Mattel broadened the number of skin tones, eye colors and hair styles available for the dolls, which first appeared on store shelves in 1959.
The latest changes, however, “are by far the most dramatic we’ve ever made,” Chidoni said.
They come after years of criticism leveled at Mattel over the doll’s unrealistic proportions and concerns that Barbie reinforced a single, virtually impossible standard of beauty for girls to try to meet.
A 2006 British study (PDF) found that “girls exposed to Barbie reported lower body esteem and greater desire for a thinner body shape” than those who had been given dolls reflecting larger body types or no dolls at all.
Robert Best, senior director of Barbie Product Design, said the changes address such concerns in a positive way.
“This is radical because we’re saying there isn’t this narrow standard of what a beautiful body looks like,” Best said in the online video.
Thursday’s announcement met with approval on social media.
“Thank you @Barbie,” one Twitter user posted Thursday. “I’m officially excited & proud to buy my daughter a barbie one day!”
Another Twitter user thanked Mattel for “bravely acknowledging that women can be ‘Curvy,’ ‘Tall’ or ‘Petite’ & not just ‘Original’ !!!”
For now, only some of the dolls are available and only through Mattel’s online store. They will be in stores March 1, Chidoni said. The full line will roll out in stages throughout the year.
Mattel undoubtedly hopes the dolls will help reverse a long slide in sales that has seen Barbie unseated as the queen of Christmas and Mattel supplanted by Lego as the most popular toy brand.
In October, Mattel reported that worldwide Barbie sales fell 4% in the third quarter of 2015. And the company’s stock price was down nearly 43% from its 2013 peak.