When I was 8, my parents bought me a Barbie Dream House for Christmas but a doll wasn’t included.
With money that I saved from allowances, I rushed to Target’s toy section perusing the pink aisles looking for the perfect Barbie to live in my new dollhouse. I wasn’t going to buy the classic Barbie with blonde hair and blue eyes. I was set on buying a doll that looked like me: brown skin, black hair and brown eyes.
The aisle was filled with ballerinas, chefs and even horse riders. But from the entire stock, the only Barbie that resembled me was an Eskimo. Even though eight-year-old me wondered why an Eskimo Barbie would be living in a mansion, I still bought it.
I gave away my Eskimo Barbie years ago to my seven-year-old cousin knowing she was searching for a doll with a complexion similar to hers. But now 11 years later, things have changed for the better.
On Jan 28. Mattel released Barbie’s evolution. Often criticized for having unrealistic portrayals of women, Barbie now has new body, hairstyle and skin-tone options. Children can choose between a curvy, petite or tall Barbie. Children can decide whether their doll will have curly, straight, dreaded or Afro hair of whichever color. Children can finally have a Barbie that they can truly relate to.
Furthering their advancement, new careers will be added. In our society that has organizations such as Girls Who Code to equip females with computer skills, Barbie has now supported their stance. Although it will be available in summer, Barbie will be a game developer with the title of “Career of the Year.” This will definitely inspire younger girls to learn about how technology works.
However, I know that this new move of inclusiveness does not represent every woman. There are so many different body types, so many imperfections that women have and one company cannot represent them all. But Mattel is on the right path.
Growing up Latina, I had difficulty thinking that my skin color was too dark not only because of the media but also because of dolls. It took me years to find the beauty in my skin tone, years that I want young girls to avoid experiencing.
With the lack of diversity in Hollywood, modeling and entertainment in general, most children don’t feel represented. But I rest easy knowing that children will learn to love themselves because they will be playing with a Barbie that looks like them, their mothers or their role-models. Children can now connect with their dolls.
This is just Mattel’s first step into featuring a more realistic representation of women. The definition of beauty is changing. It can only get better from here.