The company created the Barbie Fashionistas line in 2015 after years of drawing criticism for promoting a slim, white, domestic image.
Mattel then expanded its range last year by adding a doll with a prosthetic limb and another in a wheelchair. The line also introduced the first Barbie to wear a hijab in 2017.
The Fashionistas line now features over 170 "diverse dolls".
Over the past five years, the line has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them by introducing more than 170 new looks, including:
- More skin tones, hair colours and textures, eye colours and facial structures (sculpts).
- Body diversity including Tall, Petite, Curvy and a doll with a smaller bust, less defined waist and more defined arms.
- Dolls reflecting permanent disabilities, including a doll with a prosthetic limb and doll with a wheelchair and ramp.
- Updated Ken looks with a variety of skin tones, bodies, eye colours and hairstyles.
- Mattel now offers Barbie dolls that come in five body types, 22 skin tones, 76 hair styles, 94 hair colours, and 13 eye colours.
- Ken dolls are available in four body types, 18 sculpts, 13 skin tones, nine eye colours, and 22 hair colours.
In 2020, Barbie is continuing to represent global diversity and inclusivity in the fashion doll space by showcasing a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion by adding the following dolls;
A doll with no hair
Reflective of hair trends seen from catwalks to the sidewalks. If a girl is experiencing hair loss for any reason, she can see herself reflected in the line.
A doll with a darker skin tone that uses a gold prosthetic limb
In 2019, Barbie introduced dolls reflecting permanent disabilities, including a doll with a prosthetic limb, by collaborating with then 12-year-old Jordan Reeves, who is on a mission to build creative solutions that help kids with disabilities, to create a play experience that is as representative as possible. This year, they have expanded the offering to include a second doll with a darker skin tone that uses a prosthetic limb.
A Barbie doll with vitiligo
As the company continues to redefine what it means to be a “Barbie” or look like Barbie, offering a doll with vitiligo in it's main doll line allows kids to play out even more stories they see in the world around them.
To design this doll, Mattel worked with a dermatologist to ensure vitiligo was accurately represented. A prototype was debuted on Barbie’s Instagram account @BarbieStyle last year, becoming the handle's most ‘liked’ post ever.
Ken with long rooted hair
Ken’s newest style is a first in the Fashionista’s line and differs from the traditional molded look because it has rooted locks.
SVP Barbie & Global Head of Dolls, Lisa McKnight says, “We are proud that Barbie is the most diverse doll line on the market that continues to evolve to better reflect the world girls see around them. Our commitment to better reflect the world drives a powerful conversation, and we know our efforts are resonating with eight consecutive quarters of growth and the Fashionistas category up double digits in 2019.”
Barbie’s efforts on broader diversity and inclusivity is resonating; over half of all the dolls sold worldwide last year were diverse dolls. Of the top ten best sellers, seven were diverse, including the doll that uses a wheelchair.
In the UK, both of the Barbie dolls with wheelchairs were the #1 and #2 bestselling individual Fashionista dolls while globally, the #1 bestselling individual Fashionista doll of 2019 was a curvy black doll with afro hair.
The new Fashionistas range is available from March 2020.
Compiled by Afika Jadezweni
Images supplied by Brand Alley PR