The Barbie brand has been evolving ever since they launched the “Fashionistas” line, wherein the Barbies could not only wear flats, but, to quote our own Heather Cichowski, “came in 8 different skin tones, 18 eye colors, 23 hair colors, 22 hairstyles and 14 different facial sculpts.” It was a huge deal. The people at Mattel were showing an awareness that they heard the clamor for more relatable dolls. Now, finally, they seem to have gotten the full memo: they’re expanding the line to include tall, curvy, and petite body types. Because—surprise!—not all humans are Barbie-sized. Who knew? (Everyone knew.)
According to a press release, the expanded range will allow the population of young girls at large “find a doll that resonates with them,” which, honestly, is all anyone’s really asked for. The line will continue to include different skin tones, eye colors, face shapes, and hair colors and types, all of which will lend to a pretty amazingly diverse collection. The line will be rolled out over the course of 2016, but here’s a quick preview at what you can expect:
Pretty amazing, right? Part of me wishes that this massive and positive change came from an innate desire on Mattel’s part to reach out to its audience in a moment of understanding and respect rather than out of smart business strategy (in a cover story for Time set to run in conjunction with the release of this news, Eliana Dockterman wrote, “Staying the course (of the original Barbie figure) was not an option. Barbie sales plummeted 20% from 2012 to 2014 and continued to fall last year.”), it’s still a huge step forward in teaching young girls that any and every body type can be beautiful.
Before the news of this change came out, it was clear that things were changing at the Barbie brand. Back in October, they released their “You Can Be Anything” campaign, which encouraged girls to become whatever they wanted, in the professional sense. While this was all well and good, and girls should be encouraged to follow their professional dreams and ambitions, it made the lack of diversity in body type even more apparent. Sure, a Barbie girl (living in a Barbie world?) could be an astronaut, firefighter, or mermaid (debatable), but she still couldn’t be bigger than a size zero. Something about that frame of thought was just completely backward.
Evelyn Mazzocco, head of the Barbie brand at Mattel, told Time that while “some people will say we are late to the game…changes at a huge corporation [take] time.” That certainly may be true, and the phrase “better late than never” hasn’t even seemed more applicable, but making a change that’s been called for so loudly and frequently shouldn’t have taken this long.
Nevertheless, this change, as long as we have been waiting for it, is a good one, and one that will empower young girls from a very young age to take charge of their own bodies, styles, and, ultimately, lives. After all, it’s easier to be a Barbie girl in a Barbie world when that world actually acknowledges your validity.
Learn more about the new range in their campaign video for “The Evolution of Barbie” below: