When I was younger, despite having access to my older brother’s LEGOs and racecars, I favored one type of toy- Barbie. I used to play with my Barbie for hours, brushing her hair and dressing her up. Barbie has a “look” with which everyone is familiar. Despite the fact that I am also Caucasian, that is where my similarities with Barbie end. I have brown hair while hers is blonde, green eyes to her blue ones, and I spent most of my childhood being shorter and rounder than my peers. Although I grew out of playing with dolls for many reasons, one of the reasons was realizing that I didn’t look anything like my formerly beloved Barbie doll.
This spring, Mattel is launching a new line of Barbie- the Fashionista Barbie. The Fashionista Barbie will feature a plethora of options for skin tones (seven choices), eye color (22 choices), hair color (30 choices), hair style (24 choice), face shape (14 choices)… and body type. Yes, Barbie is finally going to have options other than the unrealistic version that has existed for decades. She will now be available in tall, petite, and curvy.
In short, I love this new line of Barbie. Throughout daily life, you are bombarded with expectations about how you should look. Young children are exposed to these messages at a young age from their surroundings, which includes, among many other things, their toys. Having the opportunity to promote a healthy body image from a young age is a remarkable accomplishment. Children do not innately hate their bodies, but rather, they are conditioned to do so. One of my favorite parts of this article is that when playing with the new curvy body, one of the children describes her body as being “stronger”. In addition to body type, Mattel also took this opportunity to ensure that other features of Barbie will be customizable, ensuring that a larger number of children will be able to relate to the new dolls. Although it was years in the making, hopefully the Fashionista Barbie will provide a venue to promote healthy body image and acceptance for children from a young age!