How Barbie Got Curvy: Inside the Radical Remake of an Icon – TIME
Barbie has been a lightning rod for controversy since her debut at the New York Toy Fair in 1959. Mattel has made subtle changes to the dollâ€™s body and face over the years, but none as dramatic as the changes they are making now by adding three new body types: tall, petite and curvy.
Barbieâ€™s sales have dropped dramatically in the past few years in the face of fierce competition from what parents perceive to be more progressive playthingsâ€”like the Lego Friends toys and the Frozen doll. â€œSome of the things that people said about Barbie was that she might be a bad role model for girls, that she represents an unrealistic body type,â€ says Jess Weiner, a branding expert and consultant who has worked with Dove, Disney and Mattel to create empowering messages for girls.
In a world where curvaceous stars like BeyoncÃ©, Kim Kardashian and Nikki Minaj rule pop culture, Barbie felt out-of-touch. After 57 years of criticism, Mattel finally determined to update the doll.
â€œWe said to our teams, â€˜If you could start the brand over today and you didnâ€™t have any rules, you could do whatever you wanted, what would you do?’â€ says Kim Culmone, the head of design at Barbie. The answer was greater diversityâ€”in terms of skin tone, hair color and texture and finally body size.