Being a Barbie girl living in a Barbie world may have been the dream for many young children, but that world has a major diversity problem. It seems like to cruise with Barbie you must have three key characteristics: Tall, thin, and white.
But those days are finally changing.Your Child's Barbie Dolls Just Got Way More DiverseClick To Tweet
Barbie’s main squeeze has also been given a diversity update. As part of the “Next Gen Ken” line, Ken now comes in three body types. In an email statement to Bustle a representative from Mattel said that these updates were a necessary change to their line.
“Evolving Ken was a natural step in the evolution of Barbie’s world. By adding more variety to the line, we can offer more opportunity for story-telling potential,” they said.
Bustle points out that one of the most significant changes is to the wide array of hairstyles, widening to encompass more hair types. Relaxer products make up 21% of the black hair care market, amounting to $125 billion, and this was reflected in Barbie’s black friends. Now some of the dolls sport afros, corn rows, shaved styles, and other ‘dos, showing children that it’s okay not to have Barbie’s traditionally smooth hair.
While much of the response surrounding Mattel’s new line has been positive, some critics are pointing out a lack of trans and disabled representation, as well as a lack of true body diversity. Gina Tonic writes in Bustle that the female dolls are still mostly thin or hour-glass shaped, not reflecting the true spectrum of bodies.
“The new Barbie still doesn’t look like me,” she said. “She doesn’t look like a lot of the people who describe themselves as curvy, either. She definitely doesn’t look like the majority of the people who don’t even feel represented by the term curvy altogether. And if the body positive community has asked for anything these past few years that the movement has been in the limelight, it’s for diversity.”
Tonic also points out that, despite having room to grow, this is still a step in the right direction for Barbie and friends. Whether your child regularly rocks a t-shirt like 95% of the U.S. population or prefers elaborate flowery dresses, Barbie has always reflected that. But now, Barbie can go a bit deeper, reflecting our increasingly diverse world.
“The new variety will lead to representation for many little girls who had no Barbie that looked like them before,” she writes. “The steps forward for racial representation also need to be recognized and celebrated. But there is more that can be done for other marginalized groups, and that shouldn’t be forgotten.”Barbie and friends are making a step in the right direction. What are your thoughts?Click To Tweet