In a bid to stay relevant and address growing criticism from mothers, feminist groups and young girls, Barbie has unveiled a new collection of dolls featuring curvy, petite, tall and original body types, and a great array of skin tones and hair textures.
Including Black Barbies of various shades and Barbies with proportions listed as “curvy, petite, tall and original,” the 2016 collection of dolls comes after last year’s introduction of a wider array of skin colours and hair textures.
#TheDollEvolves campaign aims to both boost sales and make the doll more relevant to young people.
"We were seeing that Millennials are driven by social justice and attracted to brands with purpose and values, and they didn't see Barbie in this category," said Tania Missad, the head of global brand insights at Mattel.
The 2016 lines include a ‘Fashionista’ release, ‘Spy Squad Barbies’, ‘Game Developer Barbie’ and ‘President’ and ‘Vice-President’ models.
African American fashion columnist Elizabeth Wellington says that Barbie’s increased diversity will mean children of different cultural backgrounds will find greater confidence through identifying with their doll, saying “you are a dark-skinned African American girl with green eyes and your mom insists on styling your hair in Afro puffs. Your people are all taller than 5-foot-10. Bam! There is a Barbie for you!”
While Mattel has produced an Inuit Barbie since 1982 and a Native American Barbie since 1993, the company has never represented Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Sydney-based Koori woman Lorna Munro has begun creating Koori and Murri versions of Barbie to combat this lack of representation, telling Buzzfeed in October, "I thought it would be great to do a Koori and Murri version of these dolls. It’s just really important for young Aboriginal girls to have something that reflects them, something that they look like.
“Every time I put it out there on social media there was always a long list of people wanting them. I can’t actually keep up with demand at the moment,” she said.
A Facebook page featuring Ms Munro’s dolls will be set up in the near future.
Mattel will sell the new range exclusively on Barbie.com while it negotiates with retailers for extra shelf space to accommodate the new models of doll, alongside the ‘original’.
Local retailers Kmart, Target and Toys "R" Us are stocking a very limited range of Barbies with darker skin tones online.