Then vs Now; how Barbie has become more inclusive

Barbie is inclusive

I don’t know about you but if I was asked what does Barbie look like? I would reply with long blonde hair and a tall slim figure, however for 2020 it seems this isn’t the ‘Barbie look’ anymore. For years Barbie has been criticised by the media asking the question is she just an unattainable symbol of beauty, but it seems like now, years later the world of Barbie have finally realised this truth.

Mattel has released the latest Barbie dolls for 2020 and it is a collection to show off a “multidimensional view of beauty and fashion” said by CNN. There are five body types, twenty two skin tones and over seventy hairstyles. One of the dolls also comes with no hair so “if a girl is experiencing hair loss for any reason, she can see herself reflected in the line” as stated by the brand. This was just after the most liked picture on the @BarbieStyle instagram was a photo of Barbie with no hair.

This range has been done after so many people complained that the Barbie doll has been excluding lots of young women and teaching many young girls that this is the look they must try to achieve. However this new collection has finally made many feel much more inclusive. The Ken dolls have also had an upgrade as he has a new range of hairstyles including long hair, man buns and ginger hair; as well as freckles and cornrows. It also isn’t just about the look as some of the dolls have prosthetic limbs and come with a wheelchair.

@barbie on Instagram
@barbie on Instagram

You can also purchase a doll with vitiligo, which is a condition that causes the loss of skin pigment in blotches around the body. The supermodel Winnie Harlow has helped to raise so much awareness about vitiligo as she is seen all across social media and been cover stories in Vogue. People like her have had such a influence in these new Barbie’s being created as Mattel in a press release stated that “offering a doll with vitiligo in our main doll line allows kids to play out even more stories they see in the world around them”. The brand also worked with a dermatologist to ensure that vitiligo was represented properly in the design of the doll.  

@barbie on Instagram
@barbie on Instagram

They have also had to consider how this generation has evolved and the standard ‘ideal beauty’ has changed. Kim Kardashian West is a famous name that has become iconic for a curvaceous body that many women strive to achieve. With more ‘un-barbie figures’ being seen on screen and across social media it has helped to promote that not all men and women look the same and has definitely encouraged body positivity.

According to Mattel the top selling doll from almost every week of last year 2019 was a curvy black doll who wore her hair in an afro from it Fashionistas line. Also that in the UK ‘one in four Barbie dolls sold were with a wheelchair’. This proves how popular these new additions to Barbie really are, we no longer have to wish we all had long blonde hair and a tall slim figure, everyone can appreciate the diversity and feel included in such a famous and popular brand among so many children.

By Megan Summers