Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Diversity and Barbie Dolls by Konnie Enos

Recently Mattel announced they were coming out with new models of Barbie dolls. Basically they were making them in more diverse sizes so girls could find dolls in their shape. From the articles I read they added like three new shapes, petite, curvy and tall.
Most everything I’ve read is praising this move saying now girls will find a doll in their body shape, pointing out how the dysmorphic shape of Barbie has caused girls for generations to have issues with their own bodies.
Since I received my first Barbie doll nearly forty-two years ago (I still have her, and then a great deal more), I feel I’m in a unique position to comment on this debate.
My favorite, and first, Barbie was Skipper. Forty-two years ago when I got her, Malibu Skipper was a pre-teen flat chested, flat footed, short doll. Back then I was a pre-teen, short, flat footed and extremely far from flat chested girl. Barbie, with her impossible to accomplish waist size, still had a chest size in keeping with what I had going on. Yes, I have a Malibu Barbie as well.
Then I see the article about the three new body shapes. You mean you have a whopping four body shapes to account for all the diverse shapes in the world?
I’m going to guess one of them isn’t petite, curvy and overweight. Though at twelve I was just petite and curvy. Nope, they don’t have that shape either. So no Mattel. You’re still not diverse enough.
But then people are saying girls have poor body images because they played with Barbie dolls.
I have five stuffed full trunks at present count. I’ve never in my life expected to be tall, with a way to skinny waist, big hips and still have my well-endowed chest. I wouldn’t have minded making five foot tall and not weighing more than 120 pounds, but I also wouldn’t have minded not being as well-endowed. So I don’t think I’ve ever expected or even wished I looked like Barbie.
I’ll admit girls who already have body image issues, thinking they’re fat when they’re clearly not, could easily have a problem with dolls like this, but let’s bear in mind that we’re talking about girls with health concerns. I seriously doubt the shape of a doll is going to be a problem for healthy girls. Sorry, it’s just a doll.
If you want to address diversity, make more male dolls. I’ve looked. A handful in the adult male sizes and at present none in the boy sizes. Seriously Mattel, I want some boy dolls for my Kelly and Stacy dolls to play with. While you have whole lot of friends for Kelly, absolutely none of them are boys.
In other words, Mattel, you’re not doing enough to be diverse. Step up your game Mattel. Include everyone. Make boy dolls in younger sizes.
And while you’re at it, make a larger selection of clothes for your adult male dolls and for your child size dolls.
And once upon a time you made Grandma and Grandpa Heart and a sheepdog dog for the Heart family collection and I really wish I’d been able get them for my collection while they were available because that, along with several child sized boys, would make my large family of Barbie dolls complete. And some large cars, and more trunks. I never have enough of those.
Then all I’d need is a room just to display them all.
Smile. Make the day a brighter day.


  1. It never occurred to me that Barbie, Skipper or Madge were supposed to be forming my body image. Sigh, I didn't catch on.

    I used to cast my barbies in plays and make them say their lines on cue.

    I also used to put them in plastic wrap oxygen tents.

    My favorite doll was a broken Chatty Cathy with dark hair. She had x-rays, surgeries and casts when I had x-rays, surgeries and casts.

    But I never confused my reality with a plastic representation of a human.

    I guess my parents, doctors, siblings and nurses fell asleep on the job or just never got around to telling me my theatrical productions and broken doll represented me as a person.

    I guess that explains a lot.

  2. This just supports what I'm saying. The dolls didn't, don't and won't mess with a girls self=image unless she has other issues that are already messing with it.

    Anybody else agree that Barbies didn't mess with their self-image?