Barbie has been a household name for over six decades now. For much of that time, the doll represented a feminine, Eurocentric beauty standard that was not diverse like its young female fanbase. But in recent years, parent company Mattel has steadily been working to make Barbie’s brand more inclusive by increasing representation of race, body type, hairstyles and abilities. According to Senior Vice President and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls Portfolio, Lisa McKnight, the investment is paying off.
“We are proud that Barbie is the most diverse doll line on the market that continues to evolve to better reflect the world girls see around them,” says McKnight in a statement provided to The Glow Up. “Our commitment to better reflect the world drives a powerful conversation, and we know our efforts are resonating with eight consecutive quarters of growth and the Fashionistas category up double digits in 2019.”
In 2020, they’re becoming even more inclusive and adding a number of unique features to their dolls, including one with the skin condition vitiligo, a darker-skinned doll with a fashion-forward prosthetic leg, and a bald Barbie. As explained in a release:
“Over the past five years, the line has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them by introducing more than 170+ new looks. For 2020, Barbie is continuing the journey to represent global diversity and inclusivity in the fashion doll aisle by showcasing a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion by adding: a doll with skin condition vitiligo, a doll with no hair, a doll with a darker skin tone that uses a gold prosthetic limb, Ken with long rooted hair (all for the first time).”
And while they certainly couldn’t have planned it, just weeks after Rep. Ayanna Pressley revealed that she has alopecia and is currently bald, there is now a Barbie that potentially reflects that experience (or those who electively choose to be bald). “If a girl is experiencing hair loss for any reason, she can see herself reflected in the line,” the brand explains. Pressley herself lauded the doll on Twitter, writing, “[Thank you] for creating new hair loss #barbie, #Mattel.”
Now more children around the world will be able to see themselves reflected in their favorite toys! How cool is that?!