This article was originally published on Jan. 31, 2016.
Barbie dolls have a particular look to them. They’re thin, tall, long-legged… and virtually unlike any real human being. Although over the years Barbie has had more than 180 different careers–including football coach, sign language teacher, paratrooper, ambassador, president and astronaut–her body shape hasn’t changed much.
Last year Mattel, the company that makes Barbie dolls, added some Barbies to its line that have different skin tones and hair textures. There are now Barbies with one of seven skin tones, 22 eye colours and 24 hair styles to choose from. Last year Mattel also gave Barbie a flat foot, rather than forcing her to be “in heels” all the time like the original Barbie is.
Now they are introducing new Barbies with three slightly different body shapes. (The original, tall and thin Barbies will still be sold as well.)
“One is taller than original Barbie, one is more petite and one is curvier,” said Kim Culmone, Vice-President of Design at Mattel, in a video on the company’s website.
On a statement on its website, the company says it wants Barbies to look more like real people, and to give “girls everywhere… infinitely more ways to spark their imagination and play out their stories.”
Although many people say the new Barbies are a step in the right direction, some people say they don’t go far enough. They say that the new body shapes could be even more different from the original, tall, thin Barbies.
Sales of Barbie dolls have been falling “every year since 2012,” according to CBC News.
The toys aren’t in stores yet but they will be sold online (from the Internet) at the Barbie website, starting this week, for $9.99 (US).
By Kathleen Tilly
Barbie has been both loved and criticized for decades. One of the main criticisms against Barbie is that her body isn’t at all like real people. Mattel, the company that makes Barbie, heard this criticism for decades yet they didn’t change Barbie’s shape until now. Why do you think they chose to change Barbie now? Do you think the changes goes far enough?
Reading Prompt: Responding to and Evaluating texts
On the company website, a statement says that Mattel wants barbies to look more like real people, and to give “girls everywhere… infinitely more ways to spark their imagination and play out their stories.” Why do you think they only focus on girls? Can’t boys play with barbies too?
And what about Barbie’s male friend, Ken? Why hasn’t his body been transformed?
Express personal opinions about ideas presented in texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).
Make judgements and draw conclusions about the ideas and information in texts and cite stated or implied evidence from the text to support their views (OME, Reading: 1.8).
Evaluate the effectiveness of both simple and complex texts based on evidence from the texts (OME, Reading: 1.8).
Language Feature: Word choice
The new dolls are described as being tall, petite and curvy. Believe it or not, these words were chosen very carefully and a lot of thought went behind them. Why do you Mattel chose these words instead of others?