TIME Magazine: Mattel Updates Iconic Barbie Doll to Reflect Modern Women Like Lena Dunham

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Mattel has announced updates to its iconic Barbie doll, which include the additions of curvy, petite and tall body types, as part of an attempt to ensure the toys better represent modern women like Kim Kardashian and Lena Dunham, according to TIME magazine.

Speaking exclusively to TIME this week for a cover story, Evelyn Mazzocco, who is the head of the Barbie brand, said that Barbie’s declining popularity forced the company to try a different approach. For the first time, the doll will be available in alternate body types, which will include a variety of skin tones and hairstyles.

Mazzocco said after a previous attempt at making the at times controversial doll more independent and feminist, her company decided to shift its focus to creating dolls that represent greater diversity. Mattel is also marketing the toys to mothers who are more reflective of that diversity.

“The millennial mom is a small part of our consumer base,” the Mattel exec told the outlet, “but we recognize she’s the future.”

Speaking to the publication’s Eliana Dockterman, Mazzocco acknowledged that critics will say her company is “late to the game” in regards to diversity, but she reasoned, “changes at a huge corporation take time.”

Mattel has been criticized for decades over Barbie’s impractical body proportions.

Dockterman, who was given exclusive access to Mattel’s El Segundo, California headquarters for the feature story notes Lena Dunham, who is the star and creator of HBO’s Girls, might be partially behind Barbie’s transformation. She writes:

American beauty ideals have evolved: the curvaceous bodies of Kim Kardashian West, Beyoncé and Christina Hendricks have become iconic, while millennial feminist leaders like Lena Dunham are deliberately baring their un-Barbie-like figures onscreen, fueling a movement that promotes body acceptance.

Dunham’s supposed influence on the world of toys, as asserted by TIME, is profound. In addition to her promotion of “body acceptance,” the HBO star wrote in her 2014 memoir that she was raped when she was 19 by a man she insisted was a “resident conservative” while she attended College in Ohio.

An exhaustive, month-long investigation into the claim by Breitbart’s John Nolte debunked Dunham’s shocking allegation.

Kim Culmone, who is the vice-president for Barbie design, also explained that the latest changes to Barbie were handled with diligence.

“It’s a personal issue because almost every woman has owned a Barbie, and every woman has some relationship with or opinion about Barbie,” said Culmone.

Mattel has drastically shifted its focus on advertising in recent months. Back in November, the toy giant began marketing Barbie dolls to young boys.

The company’s new dolls are available now on Barbie.com, and will hit stores March 1.

Click here to read TIME‘s exclusive interview with Mattel.


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