I loved Barbie as a child growing up and I don’t think it ever once occurred to me that real people might be offended because Barbie doesn’t really represent how ‘real women’ really look. I mean, I knew she was a dolly so I didn’t expect to grow up and look like her and actually, I don’t think I really wanted to either – she has plastic pants for a start and her boobies don’t move. I quite like boobies that move on myself but then don’t most people?! I never expected Barbie’s boobies to jiggle around like my Mum’s did because, like I said, Barbie is a doll and my Mum is a real lady. I understood the difference even though I was small.
For me, at least, Barbie didn’t represent total reality but was a version of it and something fun to dress up and play with. I wanted her to be glamorous and elegant because that was her purpose wasn’t it? A vehicle for me to investigate that side of life. Dressing up, carrying a bag which matched her shoes, going out to a fabulous job in the day time and then swishing her skirt the other way for a night on the tiles with Ken (if you were ‘Day To Night Barbie’ that is). Basically, I wanted her exactly as she was.
If we had to have Barbies that represented real life in total reality then we’d have to have one of everyone wouldn’t we? This would mean the likes of lazy, sluggish ones that didn’t go out to work but signed on and that’s just not got much of a ring to it has it? Who wants to dress up ‘Couch Potato Barbie’ and play at popping down the job seekers office?! Hmmm… For me it’s just not necessary although I realise others don’t feel entirely the same.
I was speaking to a friend really recently actually and she said that growing up she’d never been allowed a Barbie doll. At a push her parents had bought her a Sindy but obviously she wasn’t as good (in little people’s eyes at least) so my friend had just never had the experience of all these fun games that I did. I remember other people being allowed a Sindy doll but not a Barbie because apparently, the thought was that she was more wholesome. I never got that, I really didn’t! As far as I could see as a child Sindy was just uglier with a MASSIVE head. THIS is why no one wanted to flipping play with her. I had two Sindy dolls as it happens and I always used to make them be the baddies in my make believe (advanced small world play would be the term today I think) so what does that tell you?
Anyway, I digress… The point is I just thought Barbie was fine as she was. Glam, pretty, not realistic but a version of it and totally, totally fun! I wouldn’t in a million years think of NOT allowing my children to play with her and am, as it goes, re-living all the fun with my daughter now I’m an adult too. Barbie in my eyes is simply fabulous!
So when I heard that Mattel had brought out three new body shapes for Barbie (to be sold alongside original shaped Barbie) I couldn’t make up my mind if I thought this was a good thing or not? As well as having different body shapes to original Barbie, the new dolls (of which there are 23 to collect) in the ‘Fashionistas’ range come with seven different skin tones, 24 hair styles and 22 different eye colours. All of the latter things I think are fab as why shouldn’t they have differently coloured skin and faces, little girls like to identify and this is all good but… The body shape? I just don’t know? These things ran through my mind:
- Would it just be a case of all the ‘curvy’, ‘tall’ and ‘petite’ Barbies (the three new body shapes) being cast as the baddies in whatever story line the game took like poor old big head Sindy was back in my day?
- Was it just a waste of time because no one who really played with Barbies wanted her to change anyway?
- Was it a touch hysterical to make Barbie be more like real people and not all the same generic shape – pandering to those who criticise?
We were sent four of the new dolls, two petite, one curvy and one tall and you know what? I’m still not sure? I just can’t make up my mind!
It’s not that I don’t like the new shapes per se but more what they represent. There’s nothing ‘ugly’ about any of them or reason for me to think my daughter wouldn’t want to play with them compared to original Barbie. No, absolutely not. They’re all rather lovely. I’m just not sure we need them. But, we have them so what did we think?
The resounding thought from Florence is that they’re all great, she likes them all in no particular order and doesn’t really see much of a difference. She’s the real judge and they definitely get the thumbs up from her. I suppose maybe I’m a bit of a stickler and because it irks me that people in the past have had a problem when I see no problem to be had, this makes me think Mattel might be just giving in to pressure and at the end of the day it still won’t please those who moan I’m sure. But, Florence’s reaction is very interesting so do take a look below.
Mattel say ”Barbie has always given girls choices – from her 180 careers, to inspirational roles, to her countless fashions and accessories. We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them”.
I get it. I really, really do but, as I think you will have seen in the video review, Florence’s reactions to the new shapes say it really doesn’t make any difference to her. She’s most impressed with the fact they have flat feet but aside from that she just doesn’t care and doesn’t want them ALL to have flat feet she just thinks it’s novel. When she first saw curvy Barbie she declared her fat which was a little shocking for me but as soon as she properly played with her that thought went out the window. They’re all just dolls and she likes them so again I have to think why the need for it then?
As an adult I kind of think WE are the ones who are hysterical about everything and worrying about labels being placed on toys. Be it that they’re ‘boys’ ones or ‘girls’ ones or an issue like the changing shape of Barbie… I reckon if you asked any Mother in the country she would say she worries about her body shape but an innocent child just doesn’t notice and I wonder if by introducing dolls like this, with a view to making everything normal, in fact does it just create the exact opposite and highlight something that wasn’t there before?
I don’t know, I’m no expert but I do have to say that I am a Barbie lover and despite loving the different hair, skin, eye colours and ability to wear trainers… I just don’t think I can fully get on board with the new shaped Barbies because of their shapes. They’re just not necessary in my eyes.
We were sent the new dolls for the purpose of an honest review. You can find out more about the range at Mattel.com. The dolls will be available in the UK from March.