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Curvy Barbie? Mattel to make dolls with different body types

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Curvy Barbie? Mattel to make dolls with different body types

Jessica Vander Leahy

Well, it’s about dang time!

Barbie, of long legs, impossibly small waist and big boobs fame, is about to be available in different body types and skin tones.

Toy maker Mattel Inc. has announced the iconic toy will be sold with three new shapes — curvy, tall and petite – as well as seven skin tones, 22 eye colours and 24 hairstyles.

With Barbie sales struggling – worldwide sales for Barbie have been sinking every year since 2012 and were down 4 per cent in the most recent quarter as kids now want iPads and other smart electronic toys – the doll’s makeover is aimed to invigorate demand.

Barbie’s new look has been under development for two years, Mattel spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni said on Thursday.

Historically Barbie has held prime position in the toy market. One Barbie biographer once said the doll was designed “to teach women what—for better or worse—is expected of them in society.” But the brand seems to recognise that times have changed and Barbie, who does $1 billion in sales across more than 150 countries annually, has to change too.

Parents these days are more interested in buying toys that empower their children, not restrict them.

 “The millennial mum is a small part of our consumer base,” Evelyn Mazzocco, head of the Barbie brand, tells Time, “but we recognize she’s the future.”

Barbie has changed in some ways already. Last year some skin tones were added to the range and Barbie’s foot was made flexible for the first time, allowing her to kick off her heels and wear flats.

But while tall, curvy and petite body types might not cover all bases it is does give people some diversity.

“One size doesn't fit all,” said Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of TTPM, a toy review site in New York. “This gives people different options when choosing a Barbie for their child.”

And as the AV club pointed out in their article about Barbie’s transformation: “Aside from the Russian woman who has spent her entire life being molded into a human approximation of the infamous plaything — and whose website is fascinating, in a car crash sort of way — presumably, a majority of the toy-buying public will support the move.”

The El Segundo, California, toy company said it will still sell the original 11.5-inch Barbie and new versions should hit US shelves in March.