Friday, 6 November 2015

Will Barbie Ever Get It Right?

Barbie, for as long back as I can remember, has been a little bit of a sore point in the lives of girls. We'd all be lying if we said that we didn't love them as kids, Dream House and all, and to be honest - I still do love Barbie; disproportionate curves and all. In the past, Barbie has been criticised for nearly everything that you could imagine; from poor representation right through to promoting poor body image for girls. So, as a new age (complete with a new advert) for Barbie dawns - it's just about time for us to ask; will Barbie ever get it right?

The new slogan seems to at least suggest a little difference to what we've seen from Mattel in the past. Gone are the Barbies in skimpy bikinis playing in pools to get young girls interested in their products and this time they've been replaced by something amazing - real girls getting involved in real sectors (amongst the traditional vet and teacher, we also see a football coach and a museum tour guide), all set alongside a new tagline; simple but effective, it now reads "You Can Be Anything". It seems here, we've reached a crossroads - we need to commend Barbie for everything it has done, and yet there are still some major issues that they're yet to target.

For the first time in forever, Barbie has become more than a tiny waist - we see the impact that it can really have on girls lives if used to the best of it's ability; we can truly inspire girls, we can push them higher than ever before. We don't even see the classic Barbie shape until the last few seconds of the video: until then we see women of multiple races, ethnicities and professions - we see the kind of world we want our daughters, sisters and friends to grow up in; yet, Barbie still is falling short. Where are the boys who like Barbie? Where are the dolls that show diverse body shapes, heights, disabilities? Where are the girls that represent those sectors in a real life setting?

The fact is, Barbie is making huge steps forward - but they still remain years behind the times. With the Lammily Doll showing us what the doll would look like with proportionate measurements (and also, you know, more than half a liver which is all that the real life Barbie would be able to fit into that tiny body) surely tradition just isn't enough to keep Barbie on it's pedestal. With Barbie seemingly increasingly irrelevant to girls these days (trust me, find me one kid who'd rather have a Barbie doll than a Frozen doll) the reboot needs more than just an attitude change - it's a start, sure - but there's still a long way to go.

In short? Barbie might get it right one day, but that day still isn't today.

Sammy xo.

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