They sold them in variety packs, so little girls could have a doll that looked like them without anyone having to clarify which doll that was supposed to be.
A Personal Essay About Barbie That Will Undoubtedly Be Written in 2046
Nicole Dieker
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To quote Time:

Mothers surveyed in Mattel focus groups expressed concern over giving the new dolls to their daughter or a friend of their daughter’s. What if a sensitive mom reads into the gift of a curvy doll a comment on her daughter’s weight? Mattel decided to sell the dolls in sets to avoid this problem, but then it had to figure out which dolls to sell together to optimize diversity and marketability.
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