Barbie adds 'tall', 'curvy' and 'petite' body styles

Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer of Mattel, said that Barbie had to "grow with the times" 

Hazel Sheffield
Thursday 28 January 2016 14:49 GMT

Barbie is expanding its range to include 'curvy', 'tall' and 'petite' dolls with a variety of skin tones, hair styles and outfits in an effort to make dolls that appeal to girls, the brand has said.

“We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand," Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice president of Barbie, said.

"These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them," she said.

Richard Dickson, president and chief operating officer of Mattel, said that Barbie had to "grow with the times".

The 55-year old doll will now come in four body types, seven skin tones, 22 eye colours, 24 hairstyles, and many different clothes and accessories. The dolls will be available to order from January 28.

The new Barbie designs come after a "feminist" ad campaign in August showed young girls triumphing in adult jobs: coaching a football team, teaching a lecture, or treating a pet in a veterinary surgery.

Feminists were not convinced. Jessica Valenti wrote in the Guardian that the "Imagine the Possibilities" campaign showed that girls could do anything, apart from girls who are "fat, of course. Or not white. Or anything over than the still very standard, horrifyingly proportioned Barbie".

Mattel, which owns the Barbie brand, may be trying to counter some of these criticisms with its latest redesign.

But it is just as likely to be trying to scrape sales off the nursery floor. Mattel's third quarter results revealed that gross sales for the Barbie brand were down 14 per cent globally, dragged down by a strong US dollar.

Nearly half of Mattel's third quarter revenue came from global markets - which may be why the company is so keen to improve diversity in the shape and skin tone of its dolls.

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