In honor of Women’s History Month and International Women’s Day, the toy giant Mattel is releasing a new batch of Barbies based on real-life women who certainly deserve to be called “sheroes.” But even sheroes need a little meat on their bones.
“Barbie is committed to shining a light on empowering role models past and present in an effort to inspire more girls,” Mattel said in a news release announcing the new group of 17 dolls. The new figures are based on a series of women from around the globe of different nationalities, ethnicities, races, cultures and vocations, all of who have made a difference in the world. They are listed as either sheroes or “inspiring women,” such as aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart, NASA mathematician and physicist Katherine Johnson and artist Frida Kahlo.
The 2018 sheroes include boxing champion Nicola Adams, fashion designer and entrepreneur Vicky Martin Berrocal, chef Hélène Darroze, soccer player Sara Gama, actress and philanthropist Xiaotong Guan, conservationist Bindi Irwin, Wonder Woman filmmaker Patty Jenkins, snowboarding champion Chloe Kim, windsurfer Çağla Kubat, golfer Lorena Ochoa, designer and entrepreneur Leyla Piedayesh, volleyball champion Hui Ruoqi, ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan and journalist Martyna Wojciechowska. You can link to the accomplishments of all these women at the online news release.
These accomplished women join other Barbies inspired by women of note of past years, including gymnastics champion Gabby Douglas, film director Ava DuVernay, ballerina Misty Copeland, and fencing champion Ibtihaj Muhammad. Mattel started its Barbie sheroes series in 2015.
Now, a few of these dolls, such as the Barbie based on model and body activist Ashley Graham, who gained fame by breaking the stereotype of the skin-and-bones mannequin and being a “curvy model,” a term she prefers over “plus-size,” have more realistic proportions. There is some height difference, too, in these new models. But most of them have the dimensions that could still fit into all of the skinny Barbie fashions, from the slinky black sequined “Solo in the Spotlight” gown to every bikini Barbie ever wore to the pool in her Dream House.
Chicago Tribune columnist Heidi Stevens wasn’t thrilled with the look of the new dolls, saying, “they couldn’t house a vital organ among them.”
Remember those charts a few years back that showed how Barbie’s proportions would translate if she were a real woman? She’d have a 16-inch waist, according to one chart, which would be 4 inches thinner than her head and leave room for only half a liver. Her wrists would be 3.5 inches around, her ankles would be 6 inches around, and she’d likely have to walk on all fours.
Which seem like some major impediments to the feats accomplished by Earhart, the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, Kahlo, a legendary artist, and Johnson, a mathematician hired by NASA to calculate the trajectory of the first American-manned flight into space. …
Creating the Inspiring Women dolls ($29.99 each) with more realistic proportions would have meant other Barbie clothing and accessories wouldn’t fit them, which may have struck designers as limiting.
But it would have been symbolic and powerful to use this new series as a line in the sand — a moment to say, “Real women in history deserve realistic body types. Here you go.”
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