Today, Mattel announced the introduction of three new body types for their Barbie doll line. They also are planning to roll out a variety of dolls with different skin tones, eye colors, and hairstyles. This is a long time coming for the well-known toy retailer. Entering the 21st century where political correctness can make or break a corporation, Mattel’s new diverse Barbie’s are imperative for the brand’s future.
Mattel’s choice to show more realistic depictions of women bodies is a very smart marketing decision, but delayed to say the very least. Prior to the introduction of their new Barbie doll line, Mattel was often criticized for promoting unrealistic thin waists, thin limbs and large breasted body types. Mattel essentially was a supporter of a society plagued by body dysmorphia, eating disorders and negative body image.
The movement toward body acceptance and female empowerment has been gaining momentum for some time and it isn’t a trend that is expected to fade any time soon. A few corporations that have already taken this new brand approach. Dove, Aerie, and Always, to name a few, all have done a great job of jumping on the female empowerment train. After many years of turning a blind eye when asked to revamp their Barbie dolls, it looks like Mattel was listening all along. This week, Time Magazine’s front cover featured Mattel’s new curvy Barbie doll with a fitting headline, “Now can we stop talking about my body?”
Evelyn Mazzoco, global general manager for Barbie, said Mattel is “changing the face of the brand.” Considering sales have dropped over eight straight quarters for the toy retailer, Mattel should have made the decision to refresh their brand sooner.
Jim Silver, editor in chief of toy review site TTPM, weighed in on the topic saying, “When half of America is non-Caucasian, you have to offer variety.” Well said, Jim.
Going forward, Mattel’s brand refresh is definitely a step in the right direction, but they may still be behind when it comes to keeping children enticed by their products. Especially since Mattel just lost the doll licenses to Disney’s “Frozen and Princess properties at the beginning of January to their top competitor, Hasbro. A dent of $300 million per year probably won’t settle well with the toy company.