Barbie Goes Beyond “Basic” – Digital Daughters Weigh In

images-1“Basic”: Urban Dictionary Definition:  Used to describe someone devoid of defining characteristics that might make a person interesting, extraordinary, or just simply worth devoting time or attention to. (Aka: conforming to being a typical white girl).

My daughter never really liked to play with Barbie dolls. In 2 when she was a mere babe, I bought her Millennium Barbie – but it was more of a novelty than a plaything. Sure, I got her a few anyway, Mermaid Barbie, Jungle Barbie, and my personal favorite, the big Barbie doll head with hair that pulled out from the root. You could style, braid and barrette Barbie’s long blonde tresses to your heart’s content – that is, unless you decided she needed a bob haircut, and no one had mentioned that it wouldn’t grow back (a sad day.)

Ultimately, she just preferred the choices offered by American Girl, dolls that resembled her both in looks (auburn hair and brown eyes,) and personality (adventurer!).

Barbie, with her one-size fits all white skin, bleach-blonde hair and blue eyes, and her preposterous and unattainable proportions, has been ceremoniously adored and scandalized since she first hit store shelves in 1959.

In today’s slang, Barbie was basic.

But, now, Mattel seems to have caught up with the times.  Their new line of dolls come in all shapes and sizes – petite, tall and curvy – and with customizable hair colors and textures, eye colors and skin tones. These new Barbies aim to reflect us all, and the images projected by progressive pop culture.

As I watched last night’s Grammy Awards, it felt right that Meghan Trainor,  the songstress behind, “All About that Base,” took home the award for Best New Artist.

Has Mattel come through for our little girls? I decided to ask some big girls and reached out to my Digital Daughter Ambassadors (DDAs) to see what they thought.

Emily, 16, Maryland:

I think that the creating the new Barbie dolls was a great move by Mattel and a step in the right direction. The different skin tones body types allow girls (and boys) of all different races to feel beautiful: because that is ultimately what the dolls promote. I think that the diversity is the most powerful part, because now little girls can see that all races are beautiful and can feel included. I do think that Barbie dolls still objectify women, but not as much because they “curvy” and “tall” dolls show that it is okay to look different from the stereotypical “pretty girl.” In the future, I think that Mattel should continue to make all different types of dolls, more specifically, dolls that are more diverse. 

Lauren Galley, 22, Houston:

The iconic Barbie and her shape has been a fundamental building block of playtime for girls since 1959. Barbie was a household name with little to no competitors flooding the market until the 90’s. Social Media, tablets, iPhones, and computers are giving girls an opportunity to see girls around the world in a new light. We have celebrity mentors and they come in all different shapes and sizes, thus creating a storm of voices that have asked for a variety of dolls that little girls can relate to. I believe Mattel is taking a huge step in stomping out the idea that skinny, white and blond is not the “perfect” mold, and I agree with that concept 100%. 

Alexandra, 16, New York

I think this was a good move by Mattel so they could start to stray away from the perfect, unrealistic body type that they’ve showcased to girls, and instead begin to celebrate all body types and races.  It reminds me a lot of the very successful Just Like You dolls by American Girl, which although don’t represent different body types, have a wide selection of different skins tones, hair and eye colors, and facial features.

Maia, 16, New York

Yes it was a good move (by Mattel). There’s been a bunch of hatred for the bodies of their dolls over the years, and finally they are trying to fix it.

Ultimately, all DDAs agreed that Mattel made the right move. But, they shared the opinion that Barbies should not only be diverse in appearance, but also in hobby or career.

How about Video Game Designer Barbie, Supreme Court Justice Barbie, Climate Activist Barbie — President Barbie?



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