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The Blue & Gray Press | October 19, 2017

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New Barbie dolls feature variety of figures, not enough diversity

New Barbie dolls feature variety of figures, not enough diversity

By PATRICIA YATES

On Jan. 28 Mattel, Inc. announced a new line of Barbie Fashionistas that would include three more body types to go alongside the original body type; curvy, tall and petite. The dolls come in multiple skin colors, clothing styles, facial structures and have different hair colors including blue and purple.

The new line of Barbies is letting young girls have dolls that can look like them, according to the company. Since 2012, Barbie has been losing money, and this may be their attempt at raising their profits again.

Barbie sales started decreasing in 2012, although it was only a 3 percent drop, followed by a 6 percent drop in 2013 and a whopping 16 percent in 2014. That is more than a 20 percent sales drop in only three years.

In addition to falling sales numbers, Mattel has lost its rights with Disney and at the start of this year, they are no longer allowed to produce Disney Princess dolls. That is estimated at over a $500 million dollar loss for Mattel, right on the heels of a continuous loss of sales in multiple assets, not just Barbie. Barbie is their second largest income, so it is no surprise they are trying to save her.

This year they are releasing 33 new Fashionista dolls. Not all of them are out yet, some are still coming out later this year, and some of the available ones are already sold out and on backorder on the Mattel website. 13 dolls are already out, four are taking pre-orders, and 16 are coming out later this year.

Along with the new shapes and sizes of these Fashionista dolls, there will be new clothing sizes to fit. The new clothes will not fit every doll, therefore swapping outfits will become more limited and costly.

There are complaints and complements surrounding the dolls already. Many say that making these new dolls is a step in the right direction, but the dolls are not there yet. Much of the controversy surrounds the ‘curvy’ dolls, with many people saying it is simply representing the average body from years ago and Mattel is just now getting around to giving people a normal looking doll.

The new dolls are not part of the “friends” series, instead they are Barbie, not a side piece. By making these new dolls stand alone and not be in Barbie’s shadow, but rather Barbie herself, Mattel has opened a new window for children. Since Barbie was created in 1959, she has always been thin, white and had a well-defined hourglass figure. This year the new dolls will be giving children new Barbie role models to look up to. With the added variety of shape, height, skin tone and more, hopefully children and adults alike or anyone who buys the new Barbie will be able to see themselves and relate.