In Barbie’s 57 year history, she’s been a businesswoman, an astronaut and a surgeon. She’s been sold in her teenage years with a diet book that recommended, “Don’t eat.” She’s been programmed to say, “Math class is tough,” and “Let’s plan our dream wedding.” She’s been owned by 92 percent of American girls ages 3 to 12, and her brand, Mattel, does $1 billion in sales across more than 150 countries annually. Last year, she was manufactured with new skin tones and hair textures. And today, for the for the first time since Barbies hit the shelves in 1959, she’s getting a different body.
That’s three body types, to be exact: petite, tall and curvy. Just picking these terms and translating them into dozens of languages without offending anyone took months. You can imagine how long it must have taken to design the plastic bodies those words represent.
In a strategic push, Mattel has landed Barbie the cover of TIME magazine today, positioning her new body variety in the midst of a global conversation about the doll and what her transformation means to women everywhere. Naturally, the Internet has provided a range of mixed — and often humorous — reactions:
The new Barbies are meant to represent all the different types of women who make 77 cents on the dollar. #Barbie— Katie Dolan (@kaytee_d) January 28, 2016
“But why didn’t the Barbie people make any MALE dolls with different body types and skin colors?”’- Ken’s Rights Activist— (((𝕺𝖍𝕹𝖔𝕾𝖍𝖊𝕿𝖜𝖎𝖙𝖓𝖙))) (@OhNoSheTwitnt) January 28, 2016
Barbie is changing its traditional body type to represent a less ridiculous standard of beauty, but I’ve been doing that slowly for years.— Josh Gondelman (@joshgondelman) January 28, 2016
Different sized #Barbie dolls means you have to buy different sized clothes for them. WAKE UP SHEEPLE— Rebecca Cohen (@GynoStar) January 28, 2016
My Barbie dolls were 5'9, blonde, blue eyed; I’m 5'2 with dark features. Not once did my 4 yr old self wish to look like a plastic doll— Магдалена Ралевска (@MADELINEFRALEV) January 28, 2016