Barbie's new doll is giving young girls a more diverse role model
Despite the age-old popularity of Barbie, the dolls have also been widely criticized over the years – accused of promoting unrealistic body types, outdated gender roles and perpetuating anti-feminist ideals.
But 2016 has seen a huge Barbie diversity drive. The new dolls released have realistic body types, heights, religions and skin tones, aiming to reflect a more diverse range of women in society. However, when it comes to careers, Barbie still has a long way to go.
This week Mattel began to do something about it, unveiling the world’s first Game Developer Barbie… and everyone has gone mad for her, with the doll selling out online almost instantly.
The new addition to the Barbie pack is far from the dolls we recall from our childhood: she is relatable and real, a down to earth (Barbie) girl advancing her career in the world of tech.
Gone are the days when Barbie’s main hobbies included walking her poodle, driving around in her hot pink VW Beatle and going on dates with Ken, encouraging young girls to do, well, nothing.
Instead of pink leather and leopard print mini-dresses, Game Developer Barbie’s wardrobe is made up of comfy jeans, a t-shirt and glasses, which were actually picked out by women in the same field, ensuring that she was an accurate representation. Even her accessories mean serious business, including a laptop (no it’s not pink) featuring real code graphics.
Mattel have gone down the professional Barbie route before, creating a ‘Computer Engineer’ doll back in 2014. But despite being a promising idea in theory, it was strongly criticized for perpetuating sexism. The ‘professional’ Barbie’s job was designing a cute computer game about puppies, and she explained in a little book that accompanied her release, ‘I’ll need Steven and Brian’s help to turn it into a real game.’
Mattel have more than redeemed themselves with Game Developer Barbie, enabling young gamers to play with a doll without feeling left out or different, and encouraging girls to break into the male-dominated world of tech. It has long been an issue that we need to get more women into STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) – we’re not there yet but this Barbie is a step in the right direction.
Now for a feminist Ken, please Mattel.