When I first heard the news that there was a new line of Mattel Barbie Dolls to be released, called the Fashionista Collection that would come in different sizes, heights, skin complexions, and hair textures- I was nothing short of elated! I praised Mattel to the high heavens for doing this and believed wholeheartedly that this was the exact solution we as a society were looking for.
I took to Facebook and shared the great news thinking everyone would agree with me. However, instead, I was met with a bit of opposition and speculation that these new Barbie dolls might bring about more harm than good for young girls in society. Here are some of the issues with this new line of Barbie dolls my readers have approached me about through social media comments and inbox messages. Feel free to chime in with your opinions!
1. The descriptive labels placed on these new Barbie dolls
So, I really do get this. Mattel is selling dolls labeled “curvy,” “tall,” “petite, “etc.” to girls who just want to call themselves “girls.” If the point of these dolls is emphasize the fact that girls come in all different shapes and sizes, why not leave the label off?
My hope is that Mattel would treat this like they do for dolls of other races. The same way we don’t need to see the label “Black Barbie” to know what we’re getting, I’m sure America will get by just fine in picking out the Barbie Dolls they want sans descriptors.
2. “Original Barbie” as the constant.
Going along with the first statement, some parents have the fear that maintaining the longstanding Barbie dolls and labeling them “Original” could also subconsciously imply that this one is to represent the “Normal” Barbie or “Standard” Barbie.
I agree that this could very well be problematic (rightfully so), but as per my first hope for Mattel, I hope they just leave off the labels altogether.
3. Potential promotion of obesity leading to a greater societal issue
I knew this was coming. Yes, childhood obesity is a MAJOR issue in society. There’s absolutely no objection to that from me.
However, I think it needs to be said that “curvy” does not necessarily mean overweight or obese. To me, it means that even at a relatively healthy weight, you still didn’t get the long thin legs, lean torso, and hour glass shape as “original Barbie” had.
When I see that Mattel has created a line of obese Barbie dolls that come equipped with their own supersize meals and junk food, I might contend that we might be moving a step in the wrong direction. Until then…power to the curvy girls!
4. “Are we making too big a deal out of all of this? They are just dolls, who cares what they look like?”
To this statement, I have to say this…
When I was a little girl, dolls came in only 2 shades. One shade of white and one shade of brown – neither of which looked anything like me. My grandmother noticed this and began sewing lighter and medium brown cabbage patch type dolls for me and my cousins. It was a minor gesture to some, but major for us to truly see ourselves reflected in the dolls we loved so much and deemed beautiful. I can only imagine that Latino, Asian, red-heads, and other girls who fell outside of the standard 2- shade spectrum might have felt a little similar to me, while those who did thought nothing of it either way. Point is, you don’t know what it’s like to want for something you already have.
5. Threat to small business who specialize in minority doll making.
Yes, it’s the typical scenario of the big corporate giant running the mom and pops out of business. What will happen to those businesses that moms turned to when they couldn’t find a Barbie doll that looked like their daughters? These businesses have succeeded for being able to meet that need, though there is a very good chance that this new line of Barbie Dolls will hurt their businesses. All I can say is that I know my daughters have no shortage of dolls and I hope this demand will still enable these companies to sustain.
In all, I’m still very proud and excited about Mattel’s new line of diverse Barbie dolls and hope that society as a whole will see this as a step in the right direction.
Will it completely dissolve all self esteem issues children face? No!
Will it create a greater tolerance, understanding, and acceptance of diverse body types, completions, and hair textures? Possibly.
Will it bring me a little more joy as a mom to buy my daughter a Barbie doll that better resembles her and her family members? Yes!
Kudos to Mattel for even bringing this issue to the table and embracing diversity in a much needed way!