Hoping to make its Barbie's more relatable to children who play with them, Mattel has come out with dolls with various skin tones and body types.
After years of conforming to the unrealistic body type and stereotypical white girl image for Barbie's, Mattel is incorporating diversity in its latest range of dolls which includes one with vitiligo and one without hair. Speaking about its newest additions to the existing models, the company said its aim was to create dolls that children with those specific conditions could relate to. The brand, that has been criticized in the past for its lack of inclusivity, wished to showcase "a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion," through the new additions in the Barbie Fashionistas line.
In recent years, the company has made efforts to "represent global diversity and inclusivity," and serve as the "most diverse doll line," reports CBS News. This new range of Barbies includes various skin tones, hairstyles, and body types. "For 2020, Barbie is continuing the journey to represent global diversity and inclusivity in the fashion doll aisle by showcasing a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion," said a Mattel spokesperson. Speaking about dolls with Vitiligo, a disease which causes loss of skin pigment in blotches, they said, "As we continue to redefine what it means to be a 'Barbie' or look like Barbie, offering a doll with vitiligo in our main doll line allows kids to play out even more stories they see in the world around them."
More skin tones!— Barbie (@Barbie) January 28, 2020
More body types!
More unique looks!
Express yourself with #Barbie #Fashionistas – the most diverse doll line. 💕 Shop now: https://t.co/zTVjMZsjVy. #WeAreBarbie pic.twitter.com/l176Wvzj0z
Explaining what the dolls with no hair represent, the company told CNN, "If a girl is experiencing hair loss for any reason, she can see herself reflected in the line." The latest collection has made many additions to its existing models to make it more diverse. These tweaks include a darker complexion for the model with a prosthetic leg. Even the Ken dolls have been given a hairstyle of long locks, instead of its signature short haircut. With the object of including realistic body types and hairstyles, the company now has several dolls with various features: 22 skin tones, 76 hairstyles, 5 body types, 94 hair colors, and 13 eye colors, reports The Independent.
"We’ve been committed to increasing diversity in our line and showcasing all the different types of beauty that exist ... making the line more accessible," said senior vice president and global head of Barbie, Lisa McKnight, reports USA Today. According to Adweek, the company explained that they had to reposition itself according to the demand of the market. "Focusing our efforts on diversity and inclusivity is resonating, as 55 percent of all the dolls sold in 2018 were diverse dolls," said senior vice president Lisa McKnight.
Of course, this isn't the first time that Barbie has deviated from its traditional line of dolls. Just last year, a Barbie with prosthetic limbs, in a wheelchair, was released. Working alongside Jordan Reeves, a disability activist who was born without her left forearm, the company designed a doll with a prosthetic limb. "As a brand, we can elevate the conversation around physical disabilities by including them into our fashion doll line to further showcase a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion, said Mattel according to CNN.
Heeeyy! That's pretty sweet. I've had #vitiligo since I was little, and no one knew what it was. In recent years, I've seen high fashion models with it, and now this.. very cool. ❤️ Might have to get one for my 4 & 6 yrold #girls. ☺️#Barbie #StillCool https://t.co/ka41MfbVxc— Marci 🎤 (@MTOnAir) January 28, 2020