Barbie Gets New Friends, and they Don’t Look Like Her

After years of hearing criticism about the unobtainable body type exemplified by the classic Barbie doll, Mattell is adding some diverse body shapes to its doll line-up.

The company said it is expanding its Fashionistas line with three new body types, tall, curvy and petite. The line will also include a wider range of skin tones, hair styles and outfits.

Take a look at the pictures, and decide for yourself how inclusive the new line is.

You can certainly see more diversity in the body types of these dolls, even at a distance. It will be interesting to see how children react to the new additions. Will they gravitate toward the doll that looks most like they do?

Psychologists have long debated whether the impossibly thin and busty physique of “classic Barbie” has a negative effect on the minds of young girls.

Will the sight of Barbie make them feel inadequate? Will they try to emulate Barbie’s impossible form with self-destructive behaviors such as eating disorders or excessive plastic surgery?

That these arguments have raged so long suggests that Barbie probably does as much good as harm. She inspires debate, after all, and her example points out how popularizing a single idea of beauty can be destructive. In that way, she serves as a teaching tool for young girls.

At the same time, Mattell is doing a good thing by broadening the line-up to include different body types. The simple idea of such a thing seems silly and pointless, but the sight of the differently-shaped dolls lined up makes the execution seem more plausible.

They really do look quite different, one from another. Just like in real life.

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