Barbie gets a complete makeover with a collection of new looks. Is life in plastic more fantastic now with Barbie? And what does Ken and everyone say about all this?
Barbie gets new looks in the 2016 Fashionista collection – 33 different looks to be exact – featuring three new body types namely, curvy, tall and petite. Barbie’s manufacturer, Mattel, announced the new Barbie will also come in seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. Michelle Chidoni, who is the spokeswoman for Mattel, says, “By introducing more variety into the line, Barbie is offering girls choices that are better reflective of the world they see today.”
But what does the world say about Barbie’s biggest change since 1959? Kris Macomber, a sociology professor at Meredith College, says that she’s “reluctant to celebrate Barbie’s new strategy because it doesn’t change the fact that Barbie dolls and other kinds of fashion dolls still over-emphasize female beauty. Sure, all body types should be valued. And, sure, all skin colors should be valued equally. But why must we keep sending girls the message that being beautiful is so important?”
Kumea Shorter-Gooden, co-author of Shifting: The Double Lives of Black Women in America, stated in the past that Barbie has a bigger impact on black girls when it comes to skin color and hair. She praised Mattel “for diversifying the size and look of Barbie,” but added that “European-American hair still prevails,” and that the dolls’ outfits still “convey a traditional and constraining gender norm about how girls and women should look.”
While Barbie’s big change is still subject to a lot of scrutiny, men spoke out, “where’s dad bod Ken?” Twitter was flooded with posts demanding a “realistic-looking” Ken, hairy-chest, beer belly and all. Even though most of these were humor-laden posts, it still got the world talking.
The image of Barbie has been a popular symbol of this society’s standard of beauty for decades. And here she is now completely evolved with 33 different looks. Some applauded Mattel for it, while some still made negative remarks.
Perhaps, what needs changing and evolving is this society’s ideals. The poor doll had to undergo so much “plastic” surgery to become “socially acceptable.” And what about us? As Macomber said, “why must we keep sending girls the message that being beautiful is so important?” Every girl, every woman, and every person should be his/her own representation of what beauty is. The doll is still, first and foremost, just a toy and we allowed her to play with our self-esteem.
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