In case you missed it, Barbie now comes in tall, petite, and curvy. Cue the internet explosion of praise for embracing a wider variety of body types. I read everything from "I can finally be proud to buy my daughter a Barbie!" on Twitter to headlines declaring "Barbie has finally become a real woman." Actually, she's a doll. Let's treat her as such.
I've been an avid Barbie collector for as long as I can remember. Olympic Barbie? Yes! Black Barbie channeling the 70s in bell bottoms and psychedelic faux fur? One of my favorites. Barbie does Erica Kane? A no-brainer for my Christmas wish list.
Barbie has had many a fabulous incarnation in terms of fashion, skin tone, and hairstyle. And when Mattel drops the ball, creative Barbie lovers pick up the slack and dress her as they see fit. As I write this, Hijarbie (Barbie in traditional Muslim garb) is making a name for herself on Instagram, and THAT is beyond cool. Kudos to Haneefa Adam!
Seeing Barbie in a multitude of shades and in various garb drives sales, and in my personal experience, imagination. But when I look back and try to pinpoint a time when I looked at Barbie and longed for her figure, or wished that she looked more like me, I come up short. Barbie dolls were just that - dolls. She's no more life-like than my toddler's favorite toy, a Cabbage Patch named Jasmine who is half human and half pink leopard.
Categorizing Barbie into original, tall, petite, and curvy only highlights predetermined notions of what the buyer's body should look like. Where is pear-shaped Barbie? Or Barbie with a Big Ol' Butt? I don't see a representation of fit Barbie, either. And most glaringly, there is no overweight or obese Barbie. This quote was taken from CNN:
Robert Best, senior director of Barbie Product Design, said the changes address such concerns in a positive way.
"This is radical because we're saying there isn't this narrow standard of what a beautiful body looks like," Best said.
Actually, Mr. Best, it's incredibly narrow. It would be virtually impossible to broaden the variety of body types to feel truly inclusive. And for this reason, Barbie's original body, in all its impossibly unrealistic glory, should remain unchanged. I view fashion models in the same light: clothes are best showcased on a slender body type, and I'm ok with not seeing every imaginable shape and size coming down the runway.
I'll be purchasing the Original Barbie in every skin tone available when my daughter is old enough. That is, if she wants them.