Growing up, there’s no doubt my personal favorite toy in my collection was Hawaiian Barbie. In those days, her tan skin and dark hair was about as close as I could get to a doll that resembled me—but like most girls, I could only dream of growing up to be that leggy.
Looks like every little girl’s dream of having a doll that looks more like them has come true—today, Mattel announced that they’ve created new Barbies with petite, curvy, and tall shapes and statures. It’s the company’s boldest move yet to address the lack of diverse body types represented in its iconic dolls.
In a focus group observed by Kenji Aoki for Time magazine, one mom said this of a curvy Barbie:
“She’s cute thick. I have the hardest time finding clothes that are fitted and look good. It’s like if you’re bigger, you have to wear a sack. But she doesn’t look like that.”
Let’s be real—a 24-inch waist isn’t attainable for a lot of us. As the notion of hourglass figures and thigh gaps as markers of health and beauty fall away, it’s important that a big brand like Mattel is finally embracing women of all shapes and sizes. Thanks in part to the Body Positive Movement—which has made strides in empowering women of all shapes and sizes to “value their health, unique beauty, and identity” over the last couple of decades—it’s also become more clear that, in raising healthy kids, what’s really important to stress is getting regular exercise and eating nutritious foods. There are so many different diets that can be considered healthy—vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free, Paleo—and pretty much anything goes as long as it makes you feel good from the inside out.
For sure, these new Barbies won’t come without a new set of criticisms, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for a brand that’s had a major influence over young girls for generations. If nothing else, this aesthetic change symbolizes the fact that being “skinny” isn’t what ultimately determines one’s health, beauty, or overall happiness.
Photo credit: Mattel