Mattel announced a new line of diverse Barbie dolls on January 28th, 2016. The keyword “body” is clearly exemplified in Mattel’s new line of dolls through the line’s different representations of the body. In this line, we see dolls that are curvier with larger legs and hips as well as dolls taller and shorter than the original Barbie. What I found interesting was the addition of more hair colors, including a doll with blue hair and another doll with purplish-red hair. Mattel is showing girls that beauty comes in all shapes, sizes, and races. In her Keywords for Children’s Literature essay, “Body”, Kelly Hager discusses the need for more representation of diverse body shapes in literature and the mass media. Media is stuck on the “hyper-thin” ideal of beauty which doesn’t accurately embody the current society (20). With this new line, Mattel is changing the expected body image of Barbie to an array of body types that clearly represents actual society. With this new line, Mattel is promoting girls to love their skin and understand that there isn’t just one standard for a beautiful body.
Like Mattel’s new line, Toni Morrison discusses true issues with the one desirable body in her novel, The Bluest Eye. Morrison’s character, Claudia, shows these body standard issues and how differences of race play into her rejection of the white baby doll. Morrison says, “Adults, older girls, shops, magazines, newspapers, window signs – all the world had agreed that a blue-eyed, yellow-haired, pink-skinned doll was what every girl child treasured. ‘Here,’ they said, ‘this is beautiful, and if you are on this day ‘worthy’ you may have it’,” (The Bluest Eye.21). Morrison illustrates the problems of society and how children feel when they do not fit society’s standard of beautiful. Childhood is a time where girls’ bodies are growing and girls have no control over the way they look. Media’s standards give girls false ideas of the beautiful body and force girls of other looks, in Claudia’s case race, to believe they have less value.
Both the Mattel Toy Company and Toni Morrison understand how media portrays the keyword “body” in very one-ended ways and have acted against this common portrayal. It’s refreshing to see Mattel’s addition of diversely shaped dolls. I hope Mattel continues to add to this line and that other toy producers and the media follow this trend.