Life in plastic, diversity is fantastic
JOAN O’LEARY | CONTRIBUTOR
Life in plastic is actually going to be fantastic due to the changes coming to the traditional model of Barbie. The classic bottle-blonde, thin, empirically perfect Barbie is getting a modern makeover.
According to Mattel, the company that makes the illustrious Barbie doll, Barbie will now come in four body types and 22 eye colors, with seven skin tones and 24 new ‘dos. There are also 14 face sculpts to choose from. This totals to a whopping 33 dolls that will be on the market this year. Another change is that Barbie will now have moveable ankles – this is huge because now, like most normal woman, she can wear flats. These new Barbie dolls are a huge step in the right direction for reshaping the beauty standard and encouraging young girls to love their bodies.
Over the last decade, girls have been actively trying to change the public sentiment regarding what it means to be beautiful. Now companies such as Mattel are changing to adapt to these new consumer demands and expectations. With more inclusive and diverse options to choose from, people are more likely to pick up a doll for their child. This makes it a win for Mattel. Consumers win in the sense that these diverse options for doll choices help promote messages of positive body image and positive self-esteem for their children.
Junior Alexis Dachs shares the truth about the older generation of Barbie and why this new makeover is a positive change.
“It’s about time they do something like this,” Dachs said. “I read an article that said if the original Barbie was a real woman she wouldn’t be able to stand because her body proportions are so off.”
In 2015, Barbie sales fell four percent in the third quarter and Mattel’s stocks were down almost 43 percent from their peak in 2013.
As an adult, it’s hard to think about how my doll-playing days may have affected me in the long run. I always just picked out what I deemed to be the prettiest looking doll and played with her for the afternoon. Many women at the University of San Diego also played with Barbie dolls when they were younger.
Senior Jordan Vaughn shares her childhood experiences playing with Barbies.
“I remember when I was a kid I always wanted to pick up dolls that looked like me,” Vaughn said. “These options will help girls have more of that opportunity.”
Back in the pigtail days, there was hardly any research and evidence proving how childhood toys may affect adult self-perceptions. This was a time before YouTube star, Riley, from the video “Riley on Marketing,” that went viral, demanded to know why certain toys and dolls were marketed to young girls. Now with this new Barbie doll, rather than having one standard for girls to look up to, these petite, tall, and curvy options help instill the idea that beauty comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors.
Although this new Barbie may seem like a very modern, positive new development for the feminist movement, several feminist groups have pointed out that they believe this is only a very small step forward for Barbie. They believe that the idea of a doll objectifies women completely.
Senior Kaylin Bourdon opens up about her opposing view about the new Barbie model.
“It’s an improvement from the original Barbie, but from a critical standpoint I feel like it still communicates to girls that looks are what’s important, especially with these that your body type defines who you are, ” Bourdon said.
“I don’t know how that would be improved other than getting rid of Barbie all together, I just think they are a really sexist toy.”
While I understand this notion, I have to disagree. Young girls have been playing with dolls for hundreds of years. Should young boys stop playing with action figures? Children of all ages play with dolls. Many years ago, Barbie only came in one form— typically a Caucasian housewife. Now, Mattel makes doctor Barbie, vet Barbie, President Barbie, teacher Barbie, and many others. I think Barbie can and should continue to evolve and change in a positive way, but we need to celebrate the steps that have been made by Mattel so far.
Junior Tania Toussaint shares why she thinks this is a positive step forward for the traditional Barbie doll.
“I think this is taking us one step closer to finally and truly accepting everyone’s differences and more importantly, our own differences,” Tania said. “Girls who play with Barbies today will have such a different experience than us since they can relate in a different way to the Barbie of their choice.”
I would argue that these newly diverse dolls affect young girls in a positive way. These dolls introduce girls to a variety of potential careers and now body images, making them an inspiring and positive play toy for young girls. I am excited about these new changes that Mattel has made to Barbie and I am excited that little girls are one step closer to understanding that their beauty lies within their uniqueness and that there is no standard of beauty to conform to.