Barbie Got Back

The days of mocking Barbie's unattainable (and probably impossible) curves may be numbered. In its latest effort to evolve its offerings to better reflect the reality of its market, Mattel released a new line of Barbie dolls with three new body types: petite, tall and curvy.

The new lineup also includes 7 skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles in their ongoing and open attempt to make the dolls look more diverse.

Mother and fathers creeped out by gender-based stereotypes, unattainable ideas and a lack of true diversity in toy offerings, not just from Mattel, are stunned and happy at this latest recalibration at the toymaker.

In a video of the announcement, Robert Best, senior director of product design, describes the new line as radical. "Because we're saying there isn't this narrow standard of what a beautiful body looks like."

No doubt the designers and decision-makers behind the progressive new line are wanting to be more inclusive. But this is also a business decision, as the Washington Post points out.

Mattel has lost significant marketshare to Disney ever since its Princess line captured the minds, hearts and parental income of the young girls of the '90s up to today.

Recent attempts to update the doll in midlife have backfired for the company: that time they made her a computer engineer but one who needed a boy's help with all that confusing techy stuff, and the company's financial push to Sports Illustrated to get her on the cover of their swimsuit edition.

Last year, the company appeared to have figured out the right path, after hiring a (female) toy designer who led a team to design a line of female action figures. They also released limited edition celebrity Barbies, including "Selma" director Ava Du Vernay, which sold out in minutes, and teen pop singer Zendaya Coleman.

The new dolls are available today. Mattel execs are watching anxiously to see whether these dolls will connect be attractive to girls and in line with modern parents' values in a way that translates to a reversal in profit losses the brand has meant for Mattel in the last five years.

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Photographs by: Mattel

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