For years, Barbie’s come in different skin tones and hair styles. Now, little girls can play with a “curvy” (overweight) doll, as well as petite and tall models, reports Eliana Dockterman in Time.
That’s supposed to help girls develop realistic expectations of what the human body looks like. “We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” said Evelyn Mazzocco, a Mattel senior vice president and global general manager of Barbie, in a statement.
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However, Mattel’s tests showed little girls are not leading the fat acceptance movement, writes Dockterman She visited Mattel’s testing center, where a six-year-old girl gave the new Curvy Barbie a voice.
“Hello, I’m a fat person, fat, fat, fat,”
. . . When an adult comes into the room and asks her if she sees a difference between the dolls’ bodies, she modifies her language. “This one’s a little chubbier,” she says.
. . . A shy 7-year-old refuses to say the word fat to describe the doll, instead spelling it out, “F, a, t.”
“I don’t want to hurt her feelings,” she says a little desperately.
“We see it a lot. The adult leaves the room and they undress the curvy Barbie and snicker a little bit,” says Tania Missad, who runs the research team for Mattel’s girls portfolio.
Most of the girls Dockterman observed chose their favorite doll based on hair, she writes. “A curvy, blue-haired doll that many girls dub Katy Perry is by far the most popular. But when asked which doll is Barbie, the girls invariably point to a blonde.”
Though she’s a billion-dollar brand, Barbie has been losing market share, writes Dockterman. “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.”
Elsa is thin — but “she comes with a backstory of strength and sisterhood.” And she’s got her own movie.