Barbie has in itself become an iconic image ever since she first launched in the 1959. 1990 in fact, saw the release of the best selling barbie doll. She was created with her signature cascading long platinum blonde hair, white skin, long slender legs and of course that teeny tiny vanishing waist that has since become synonymous with the doll brand.
However, jump forward 16 years and Barbie’s best selling doll is very different. 2016 saw the release of the popular fashionista doll which was not only was Latina, but with a much curvier figure and was brunette, as supposed to the white blonde legacy that had preceded her. However, as successful as her sales were she was a one off doll with a limited release.
In spite of this, over the past 2 years sales at Mattel (the manufacturers of Barbie) have been declining, with consumers pushing for diversity within the range, moving away from the stereotypical image that has since become the brands identity.
Vice President Lisa Mcknght established that ‘the brand was losing relevance’ and had to ‘change the conversation’ to keep with with the customers changing viewpoints. Subsequently, they revamped the fashionista line to include a range of skin tones, hair colours and introduced ‘flat feet’ instead of the constantly contorted feet which allowed barbie to always wear high heeled shoes. This change of brand worked, as 2016 became the first in several years that the sales of Barbie did not suffer a decline.
Mattel had since made a very conscious effort to change its image and is contributing to do so. 2017 will see the release of a bigger range including a tall African American doll with an Afro, as well as a red headed petite girl and a blue haired doll. Additionally their will be 10 skin tones, 4 body types and 15 various hairstyles to ensure their dolls diversity reflects that of women in real life.
So its clear to see that Barbie is changing. No longer will the public be confronted by an impossible standard of the female form but instead with more realistic images, that truly represent the diversity of women and their bodies. The next few years will be interesting!