St. Lucy's Priory High School

Opinion: Barbie’s makeover misses the mark

Mattel’s iconic Barbie doll has been the target of unending criticism in recent years, thus prompting her dramatic makeover that was unveiled last week. Such a transformation hoped to solidify a ceasefire between the suffering toy company and harshly opinionated customers. However, the drastic alterations of the doll have only fueled the fire, ushering in a series of rightful new controversies toward Mattel.

No doubt this extreme makeover comes too late in the game, as it is years overdue and fails to achieve the demanded equality in the toy world.

Previous complaints highlight Barbie’s disproportionate body, complete with the coveted “thigh gap,” and the exclusive blonde hair, blue eyes combination. Plagued with much objection and protest, the toy company responded with a new line of dolls as a spinoff of the original Barbie.

Attempting to meet public demand, the new line features life-like body types, including curvy, petite, and tall with a variety of skin tones, eye colors, and hair styles. Seemingly, the toy company has outdone themselves, capturing the diversity of today’s culture in a single strategic move to terminate public criticism.

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To no avail, as these new faces in the Barbie world do not send the right message – seeming to now introduce the minority and opening the door for further dispute.

Mattel’s move is long overdue in response to long-held public grievances against the original Barbie doll. Stocking the shelves with these diverse dolls implies the introduction of a minority, when in fact the “new” body types and hair colors have no doubt existed long before the production of Mattel’s first controversial doll.

Barbie’s detectable transformation poses as a so-called “innovative” change, as if petite, African-American, or short-haired appearances are a new advancement. Rather, such diversity largely outnumbers the blonde hair, blue-eyed prototype, and such has been the case for centuries.

Though one may take the “better late than never” stance on this issue, Mattel’s decision to incorporate the much-needed diversity to the toy opens the door to yet more controversy.

Transformed to accommodate various races, body types, and hair colors, the changed Barbie still understandably excludes some of the population, as one company cannot possibly encompass the magnitude of diversity seen throughout the globe. All new Barbie dolls maintain the same perfect complexion and bust, which is no doubt not the case for the majority of the population.

In spite of the added varieties, the transformation still echoes the lies of the social media-driven world – unblemished skin, flawless hair, enviable bust size, and the desirable kind of curvy. Despite the “curvy” label, this altered body type does not accurately reflect the shapes and sizes of the modern world, as it can be more correctly described as “normal” sized.  Intended to reverse the societal stereotype that “skinny is beautiful” as depicted by the original Barbie, this “curvy” Barbie is seen as merely an average teenage girl.

Despite Mattel’s attempt to quiet public groans over their unrealistic, their efforts reflect a seriously skewed reality, as dictated by the media. Though the toy company has broken down societal barriers, the extreme makeover, Barbie edition, misses the mark in regards to equal and accurate representation of womanly diversity.

–Katelyn Ray