Mattel’s new line of Barbies is its most diverse and inclusive, featuring more skin tones, hair types and body shapes than ever before. TNS
There was a time when all the Barbie dolls looked identical. Standing tall, wearing fancy clothing, these dolls were every girl’s dream. But over the past few years, Mattel has worked towards being inclusive and diverse.
Among the new line of Barbie dolls released, there’s one that has vitiligo, a condition that causes patches of skin and skin tissue to lose pigment.
Stella Pavlides, president and chief executive of the American Vitiligo Research Foundation, praised Mattel for it. “I think this is the best thing that could happen for children,” she said.
One of the other dolls has a prosthetic leg and another uses a wheelchair. There’s also a male doll which has long, flowing hair while a female doll has no hair.
This new collection has been praised by many for representing what children all over the world actually look like (except for the body type, which still remains painfully unrealistic).
The new lineup comes on the heels of Mattel’s release of Creatable World, a line of gender-neutral dolls that come in a range of skin colours. (Tagline: “a doll line designed to keep labels out and invite everyone in.”)
For International Women’s Day in 2018, Mattel released Frida Kahlo, Amelia Earhart and Katherine Johnson Barbies, expanding the role models that are placed in children’s hands when they play.
Yet, the dolls’ midsections are still not wide enough to house vital organs and their wrists would probably fracture under the weight of a chunky bracelet. But praise where praise is due.
If you’re a brand, this has to be an incredibly tricky time to determine what you want to be known for, what you want to stand for, what you’ll stick out your neck for.
Gillette rolled out its toxic masculinity commercial and watched as folks flushed their razors down the toilet.
Nike announced a Colin Kaepernick sponsorship and people started cutting the swooshes off their Nike socks.
It’s no time to stay silent on issues of justice and inclusion, but it’s also not an easy time to be loud. Anger, outrage and blowback is swift, all thanks to social media platforms as well as online petition sites, email campaigns and blogs.
Considering all this, it is quite refreshing to see a toy company try to win by reaching children who might not look how dolls, commercials, magazines, TV shows and movies have always told them they should look. They could have a skin condition, might use a wheelchair, or not have hair on their heads.
At a time when fear-of-the-other is stoked for votes, profits, laughs, you name it, it’s inspirational to see a company double down on diversity in its bid for our hearts, minds and money.
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