This year’s dolls will be available in tall, petite and curvy body types. Online sales start Thursday on Barbie.com and dolls will start hitting stores March 1, with a total of 33 new dolls being rolled out by the end of the year.
The new toys allow “the product line to be a better reflection of what girls see in the world around them,” says spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni.
Mattel has long been criticized for the doll’s unrealistic body proportions — a woman who appears impossibly tall, thin and busty — a reputation it’s been trying to fight as it brings the brand in line with modern expectations.
“We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, senior vice president and global general manager of Barbie, in a company statement.
The new body types have the potential to impact both girls and boys’ expectations of body image, says Florence Williams, a visiting scholar at George Washington University’s public health school and author of Breasts: A Natural and Unnatural History.
“Kids are just bombarded with images that are really just not true to nature,” she says. “It can potentially damage your self-esteem or limit your world view.” She adds that it’s important for young boys to understand women’s bodies come in all shapes and sizes because “they grow up expecting girls’ bodies to look a certain way.”
Barbie’s waif-like appearance in many ways spurred the quest to find a doll that doesn’t perpetuate unattainable beauty standards for young girls.
In 2014, Nickolay Lamm of Pittsburgh raised over $95,000 to produce a first run of the Lammily doll. Lammily has the body proportions of an average 19-year-old woman based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The doll was nicknamed the “normal Barbie” and could be purchased with “Lammily marks,” or stickers that included cellulite, stretch marks, freckles and acne.