Barbie has come under fire over the years for its anatomically inaccurate portrayal of a woman's body, even prompting some to create more relatable, realistic alternatives. Now, girls can play with dolls that look more like them and their friends: Mattel is introducing three new body types into its Fashionistas range of Barbie dolls — curvy, tall, and petite. "We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand — these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them," Evelyn Mazzocco, Barbie's senior vice president and global general manager said in a press release. "[The] variety in body type, skin tones, and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them." Mattel's Michelle Chidoni told Glamour that Barbie "was never designed to replicate the female body," but was rather "a vehicle for play.” But the brand isn't unaware of the criticism about the doll's shape (and the effect it can have on sales). With these new body-diverse offerings — a project it's been working on for two years under the code name Project Dawn, according to Time — the company hopes to better connect with its audience.
In a video on the official Barbie website, Barbie employees explain the significance of this shift for the brand. Robert Best, senior director of product design, says: "This is radical, because we're saying there isn't this narrow standard of what a beautiful body looks like." Nicole Guice, senior designer, adds that with these dolls, "[children are] seeing the differences amongst their friends and family being celebrated."
When Mattel first debuted the Fashionistas line last year, it did so with 23 dolls in "eight skin tones, 18 eye colors, and 23 hair colors," a representative for Mattel told Buzzfeed at the time. This was also the first time the toy manufacturing company fashioned Barbie with flat feet. According to a press release, the 2016 update includes a total of 33 new dolls, which comprise all the possible combinations of the four body types, seven skin tones, 14 face sculpts, 22 eye colors, 30 hair colors, and 24 hair styles available. There's still room to grow (and more body types to be represented), but this marks quite the step forward for Barbie. You can pre-order the new dolls online starting today, before they hit shelves later this spring.