Barbie’s body has been a controversial topic in society for years, her lack of diversity, many say, resulting in a negative impact on young girls. Mattel endured decades of criticism and the company has since added a new line of dolls to the mix that will promote the long-awaited diversity.
A new line of Barbie dolls was released Jan. 28 with a wider range of skin tones, shapes and sizes including small, curvy and petite, promoting diversity and a healthier body image for young girls around the world.
In a recent study conducted by the American Psychological Association, results confirmed Barbie specifically decreased body satisfaction in girls between the ages of 5-8, and was a contributing factor in developing eating disorders. Many question why it took 57 years for Mattel to finally take this giant step.
Yvonne Thai, assistant professor of sociology at California Baptist University, said the lack of change in the dolls was about holding on to tradition.
“Mattel desired to hold on to the traditional image of Barbie and not change the iconic image of who she is,” Thai said.
Barbie’s stick-thin body has caused controversy because not many women resemble the plastic. The probability of a woman with measurements that resemble the standard Barbie doll is less than one in 100,000 women.
Thai said she believes the newest Barbie is a positive step, accurately portraying diversity in the female body.
“Mattel’s recent release is a great step in a positive direction,” Thai said. “But there are many more steps needed to be taken to truly diversify Barbie.”
Although the release has been a positive direction for Mattel, the newly released body-type dolls are marketed under the Barbie Fashionistas line, and the Barbie Careers line still showcases the traditional Barbie with limited diversity.
“The Fashionista line is a start,” said Jasmine Hughes, senior behavioral science major. “But complete change is gradual; it’ll take time.”
The expansion could also increase sales after a tough year for Mattel, as the company has seen a decrease in sales that it hopes to combat with the increase in diversity.
“It will make girls feel better about their body types and reduce insecurities,” said Bria Lewis, junior psychology major.
According to reports from CNN, sales worldwide have decreased by 4 percent, which began in mid-July 2015. Some people are hopeful the recent diversity expansion will give young girls a more realistic model to look up to.