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Friday, January 29, 2016

Time to rant: the new Barbie Fashionistas

This isn't going to be 100% griping, since I can see both good things and bad things about today's subject, so I've declared this post a rant instead.  That being said, let's talk, once again, about Barbie.  Hey, I've got to do SOMETHING with the blog while I wait for Johnny to get here!  Anywho, we all know Barbie has caused a lot of waves during her reign as Queen of the Dolls, with her unattainable figure being a bone of contention ever since the early sixties.  Back in the days when toy companies did what they wanted, Barbie's figure changed very little.  But now, since toy companies have grown increasingly liberal and sensitive to the complaints of overly butt-hurt parents and consumers, things get changed around.  There are cases when these complaints are legit; I wouldn't want my kid to choke on some toy piece that was carelessly overlooked in the design department, for example.  But a doll's body shape is not something that a kid can choke on.  So why change it?  Apparently, Mattel didn't see it this way, and in recent years Barbie has seen multiple body changes.  Furthermore, all have appeared over the last three decades; the Shani body is the first change that I can name, and it appeared with the release of Shani, around 1993 or so.  Shani's body is only slightly slimmer than the classic Twist 'n Turn body, almost imperceptibly so, but it's enough of a difference that my old Shani can fit into tight dresses better than most of my old Barbies can.

Alrighty, so we've established that Mattel can't seem to leave well enough alone.  They've already made waves this year with their proposed redesign of Monster High dolls.  I'm saving that topic for another Time to Gripe.  But apparently screwing around with Monster High wasn't enough for Mattel!  Noooooooooo, they're mucking around with Barbie's body...AGAIN!!!
It's a cute, visually interesting group, with a nice selection of ethnicities, faces, and hair colors.  BUT...look closer, particularly at the blue-haired girl and the brunette in the very center.  Notice their bodies.  They're...well, THICK!  Not thick as in stupid, but rather thick as in curvaceous, just like our old frenemy, the Lammily doll.  Another interesting difference can be seen in the two dolls on the far left; look closely at the black girl in coral, and her Asian friend in the pretty red skirt.  Notice that they're both flat-footed like my Elizabeth...but the Asian girl is taller than the black girl.

According to Mattel, the bodies are called "curvy," "petite," "tall," and "original."  The blue-haired doll and the brunette in the center are curvy, the black doll in coral is an example of a petite doll, the Asian in the red skirt is on the original body, and the gang's sole redhead is a tall doll.  A more in-depth description can be found here.  This is good and bad for a number of reasons:
BAD THING:  WRONG WAY TO BUILD A CHILD'S SELF ESTEEM!!!  I've been over this before, and I'll go over it again:  it is not Barbie's job to make Rosanna and Billie Jean feel better about themselves after Roxanne calls them both fat.  It's supposed to be the job of us, the adults.  Mom, Dad, Aunt Jane, whoever the guardian is, to reassure Rosanna and Billie Jean that Roxanne is full of crap.  
GOOD THING:  It makes a group of dolls more interesting visually.  I don't know about y'all, but I love a good group of diverse dolls.  Black ladies, white ladies, Latinas, Asians, redheads, brunettes, blondes...it makes a group fun!  See?
My group represents a fairly decent demographic; each of the core races are represented, as are the dominant hair colors.  Most, but not all, of the faces are different.  My point is this:  most of these dolls are the same in terms of body shape.  A couple of them have the stiff Model Muse bodies or something similar, and several of them are fully jointed, but the overall shape and size is the same.  The only one different is Merida.  Here's what her body looks like compared to a bellybutton body.
Merida has a smaller torso and shorter, thicker legs than her friend Belle does.  Merida thus adds a little splash of something different to the mix, but it's drowned out by her willowy companions.
BAD THING:  This is strictly a gripe of my own because I'm obsessed with doll clothes, but it's pretty obvious that clothes sharing is going to be limited here.  I like to knit and crochet, so cobbling clothes together won't be a huge deal for me...but not everyone knits or crochets!!!  There's also an issue with shoes.  I already have a hard time finding shoes for my Elizabeth; her feet are flat, and Mattel has not yet produced a large quantity of flat shoes.  Yes, there are some, just not enough to make a nice, varied shoe wardrobe like the dolls with high-heeled feet have.  The wider bodies on some of the new dolls just compounds the issue.  I refer you again to Merida, who is dressed this time.
The only reason why Merida can wear this dress is because the top stretches.  The dresses I own that don't stretch don't fit Merida.  The dolls' differing heights makes this tricky situation even more complex.  In short, Mattel is releasing a group of dolls that will have thick waists, thin waists, tall bodies, short bodies, flat feet, and high-heeled feet.  I predict that clothes sharing could get frustrating in a hurry, regardless of whether the dolls are in the hands of a kid or a collector.  That leads us to a good thing.
GOOD THING:  Maybe now Mattel will get their butts in gear and make some more varied clothes.  Recently I've complained about the lack of variation of clothes from doll companies, and the disappearance of Monster High clothes altogether.  Barbie clothes have been on the upswing; my group picture above was the result of a game of Dolly Dress Shuffle, with most of the pieces being things that I'd just bought.  Some of the new dolls also come with two extra outfits.  Not one, like the Dreamhouse dolls did, but two.  So there's that little conundrum semi-solved.  The flat-footed dolls also come with extra shoes, so there's another problem averted.
NEUTRAL THING:  Oh, my poor pocketbook!  LOL, I have to admit that I'm excited about these new dolls.  They come in such a vast array of colors and styles that it's hard to pick just one favorite.  The doll that I provided in the link above, with cocoa skin and two-tone hair, is an easy contender, as is the curvy girl with blue hair.  I also like most of the new outfits, especially the fact that most of these dolls are NOT wearing pink.  Pink, as I have said before, is a perfectly fine color in moderation, but during the nineties Barbie wore so much of it that I got sick of the color.  Most of the outfits have little pink accents in places and that's fine.  Touches of a gal's favorite color in an ensemble are fine, as long as the whole wardrobe isn't drowning in it!

That's plenty to mull over, innut?  I can already name a few that will be joining my group (and one that WON'T, as she's an overly stereotypical Barbie).  It gets a little confusing for a collector, though, to have multiple sizes of doll and of clothing to keep track of.  It also gets frustrating when you have a cute doll that's bigger or smaller than her comrades, so she can't wear any spare clothes that you might have on hand.  In short, my feelings are dominantly good about this new Barbie doll development, but they are mixed.  It'll be interesting to see how these sell...and it'll be very interesting to see if the curvy dolls can share clothes with the Lammily doll!  I just thought of that, LOL.  I certainly HOPE that they can share!

I won't be preordering any of these dolls since I just bought Johnny and a boatload of items for him, but Talolili has the blue-haired doll and a tall Asian girl on the way, so these new ladies may still be coming to a blog post near you.  What do y'all think of these?  Love 'em or hate 'em?  Got a favorite?  Discuss.

Hugs and kisses,


  1. I, for one, am excited about the new bodies for Barbie. I tell stories with my dolls, so I like having dolls with different shapes and sizes. I do own Lammily, Big Beautiful doll Dasia, Momoko, and Fashion Royalty. I also have action figures, Prettie Girls and more! You get the idea. I like to stay in the 1:6 scale format so my dolls are compatible. I get tired of the world bashing Barbie for giving girls unrealistic body images. I think the real life willowy models are much more likely to do that. I played with Barbies in my youth, and never once felt bad about myself because I didn't look like Barbie. I did have the Platinum Bubble Cut Barbie and had my hair cut in a bubble cut because I liked her hair so much and my natural hair color at that time was a very close match. My only complaint with these new dolls is that they don't have articulation, but I have pre-ordered a couple in each body style. I will tell you more once they get here! BTW, I don't think many of the Lammily outfits, especially the pants, with fit the new curvy body because Lammily has a very long torso. But of course, I will try her clothes this new figure! Very interesting post. I enjoyed reading it!

    1. I don't know if you saw jSarie's comment below, but she said the same thing about the articulation. The articulation definitely could be better, particularly if Mattel wants to compete more effectively with the Lammily dolls. That also stinks that the Lammily torso and the Barbie torso are different, but maybe...just maybe some dresses might fit??? If you find out before I do, could you please let me know how fitting goes? I'm very curious. Keep your eyes peeled too; my blog partner ordered two of these new dolls. She ordered one of the tall ones and the curvy blue-haired doll, so she might review them. I hope she will! LOL, thanks for reading!

  2. I like seeing lines with more options, so I'm all for taller, shorter, chubbier options (and blue hair too) - I just wish they had better articulation!

    1. Oh jeez, me too. Instead of using static bodies, they could utilize the new Made to Move bodies in different sizes...but that might be tricky to do.