Times Have Changed & So Has Barbie
Barbie is in the news. Splish-splashing in pixels and print. Everywhere. Time. CNN. USA Today. The Atlantic. Teen Vogue. And more. Extravagantly. Lavishly. Generously. Abundantly. Plentifully.
I share this information with nary a comment. I know little about dolls in general and Barbie in particular. Let’s leave it at that. But not since “New Coke” have I seen so much written about a “new” old product — and a few of us remember how that turned out.
Let’s review what I do know: Some people love Barbie. Others don’t. Some who love her are excessively obsessive, devoting a lifetime collecting the B-doll in her various and illustrious incarnations. (Mod. Malibu. Holiday. Star Trek. Etc.) Conversely, some consider Barbie “evil,” part of a conspiracy to make young girls hate their bodies and vainly chase a sham perfection that does not exist and cannot be achieved.
I have no idea. As I kid I liked Hopalong Cassidy, Tinkertoys and books. Maybe a model car or plane, here and there. That’s about it. End of story.
That aside, I do recognize Barbie is an icon. Transcendental. Like Elvis. Marylyn. Cher. Madonna. Can you really alter an icon without consequences? Maybe. There’s an entire catalog of Elvis types: Young. Old. Fat. Slim. Elvis in white with Liberace sequins. Elvis in black. And so on. But Elvis is/was real, so iterations are to be expected because they existed.
Barbie is not real — she’s plastic. Yet this little doll is the subject of a full-scale media blitzkrieg, not seen in many a year — and not soon repeated. She stands boldly on Time magazine’s cover, asking “Now can we stop talking about my body?”
The answer: No, my dear. That conversation has just begun …
See All the New Barbies From Curvy to Tall and Petite
TIME Mattel has transformed their iconic doll with new body shapes, skin tones and hair.
Barbie’s new body: curvy, tall and petite
CNN Girls and women don’t come in one shape, and now, finally, Barbie won’t either.
Barbie’s new shapes: Tall, petite and curvy
USA TODAY Barbie is out with three new body shapes and dozens of different features to make her look more like the girls who play with her.
Barbie’s Hips Don’t Lie
THE ATLANTIC Mattel’s new Barbies, varied in their body shapes and their skin tones, suggest the company has calculated that diversity is good business.
Barbie Finally Got the Non-Skinny, Non-White Makeover We’ve All Been Waiting For
TEEN VOGUE One size no longer fits all when it comes to Barbie.
Jim Lamb is a retired journalist and author of “Orange Socks & Other Colorful Tales,” the story of how he survived Vietnam and kept his sense of humor. He does not own a Barbie, but he does have a competition-yellow Hot Wheels C-5 Corvette. For more about Jim and his writing, visit www.jslstories.com.