The creators of Barbie have long been criticized for selling dolls that poorly reflect the real life look of girls and women.
TIME magazine just got an exclusive look at the new curvy, petite and tall Barbies that Mattel has begun selling as a result of a major drop in sales due to the ongoing criticism over the years about how Barbie’s proportions poorly influence girls and women.
“Barbie’s got a new body. Three new bodies, actually: petite, tall and curvy, in Mattel’s exhaustively debated lexicon, and beginning Jan. 28 they will be sold alongside the original busty, thin-waisted form on Barbie.com.
They’ll all be called Barbie, but it’s the curvy one—with meat on her thighs and a protruding tummy and behind—that marks the most startling change to the most infamous body in the world…. It’s a massive risk for Mattel.
Barbie is more than just a doll. The brand does $1 billion in sales across more than 150 countries annually, and 92% of American girls ages 3 to 12 have owned a Barbie, thanks in part to her affordable $10 price tag. She’s been the global symbol of a certain kind of American beauty for generations, with brand recognition that’s up there with Mickey Mouse.
The company hopes that the new dolls, with their diverse body types, along with the new skin tones and hair textures introduced last year, will more closely reflect their young owners’ world. But the initiative could also backfire—if it’s not too late altogether…. But staying the course was not an option.
Barbie sales plummeted 20% from 2012 to 2014 and continued to fall last year. A line of toys designed to teach girls to build, Lego Friends, helped boost Lego above Mattel as the biggest toy company in the world in 2014. Then Hasbro won the Disney Princess business away from Mattel, just as Elsa from the film Frozen dethroned Barbie as the most popular girl’s toy. The estimated revenue loss to Mattel from Elsa and the other Disney Princesses is $500 million.