At 57, the Iconic Barbie Doll Gets a Makeover — Several, Actually

Photo (cc) by Tracheotomy Bob

With her flowing blonde locks, teeny waist, long legs, buxom chest and tiny stiletto-wearing feet, the iconic plastic Barbie has easily been one of the most recognized dolls in the United States. But now, 57 years after she first entered America’s fashion doll market, Barbie has finally gotten a (much-needed) makeover.

Mattel, maker of Barbie, recently unveiled a variety of new shapes and sizes, hairstyles, skin tones and eye colors for Barbie, The New York Times reports. The changes, including the addition of curvy, petite and tall Barbies, are designed to better mirror actual women in America, coming in seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. While one of the new Barbies has long blue hair and fuller hips, some of the other new Barbies appear to be Asian, with almond-shaped eyes, and still others have dark-colored skin and black curly hair.

“These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them,” Evelyn Mazzocco, global general manager for Barbie, said in a statement. The new body types, hairstyles and eye shapes and colors “allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.”

Sales of the iconic doll have tumbled in recent years, leaving many people to wonder if Barbie is still relevant. Because Barbie is Mattel’s biggest brand, decreased sales have taken a toll on the company, which posted an $11.4 million loss in the second quarter of 2015.

Check out some of the backlash against the anatomically unrealistic fashion doll in “Mattel Apologizes for Incompetent Computer Engineer Barbie” and “Girl Scouts Urged to Boot Barbie.”

But things may be looking up. Mattel just reported a 43 percent boost in its fourth quarter earnings, which was fueled by sales of Barbies, Hot Wheels and games, the Associated Press reports.

Reaction to Barbie’s new looks, marketed with the hashtag #TheDollEvolves, has been mixed.

“This is the appropriate evolutionary step to keep Barbie as a cultural icon for parents to buy for their kids,” said Miro Copic, a marketing professor at San Diego State University and former executive at toy maker Hasbro, speaking to the Los Angeles Times:

Others have been quick to poke fun at “Curvy Barbie,” calling her chubby and unhealthy. Milo Yiannopoulos wrote on Breitbart that “while the toy is marketed as ‘Curvy Barbie,’ a more accurate title would be ‘Frumpy Thunderthigh-Sporting Ham-Planet Barbie.'”

The California-based toy company said the new dolls, which are part of Barbie’s Fashionistas line, will hit store shelves in the United States in March. You can also preorder the dolls at shop.mattel.com.

Although Barbie was my favorite toy growing up, my 5-year-old daughter rarely plays with Barbies. I think the new Barbie bodies are great, though long overdue.

What do you think of Barbie’s makeover? It is too little, too late for Mattel or do you think it will give the toys new life? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.

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