*It’s 2016 and there’s a new Barbie in town.
In fact, there are a few different Barbies in town, courtesy of Mattel.
On Thursday, the toy maker announced it’s intent to return Barbie to being a role model with expanding its Fashionista doll line with Barbies displaying three new body types as well as various colors and hairstyles.
The Los Angeles Times reports the body types (petite, curvy and tall) reflect the images of the women of today. In addition, the new Barbies will include 22 eye colors to choose from as well as 24 hairstyles.
“These new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them,” Evelyn Mazzocco, global general manager for Barbie, said in a statement. The variety “allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.”
In addition to changing its look, the Times notes that Mattel is out to boost sales with the new Barbies. The effort is a far cry from the popularity Barbie experienced when it was introduced to kids in 1959. As one of the first mass-produced and affordable adult dolls, Barbie registered as a role model that reflected the confidence women gained by working in America’s factories and farms while men fought overseas.
“In the early days, she represented American values and was presented as an example for women,” Miro Copic, a marketing professor at San Diego State and former executive at toy maker Hasbro, told the Times. “It was a great lesson for moms to talk to their daughters, ‘You can be what you want.’”
Adding to this, Mattel further bolstered Barbie’s brand with introducing numerous fashions and accessories for the doll that aimed at attracting various age groups with different styles. The role model and fashion formula proved successful for Barbie as the doll enjoyed decades of being a favorite among young fans.
According to analysts, the arrival of MGA Entertainment’s Bratz doll line in 2001 put a dent in Barbie’s appeal as it offered a sassy personality and pouty-lipped ethnically ambiguous alternative to the impossibly thin body, out-of-proportion bust and sky-high stiletto pumps of the iconic toy. As other toy makers followed MGA’s lead, parents found themselves with more options to give to their kids that didn’t fit into the Barbie image.
As a result, Mattel ended up reporting eight straight quarters of declining revenue from sales of Barbie in recent years.
“When half of America is not Caucasian, you have to offer variety,” Jim Silver, editor-in-chief of toy review website TTPM, explained to the Times. “People want dolls that look like themselves.”
With the new Barbies, kids have various options to go with as the dolls having different eye shapes and skin tones. While one Barbie features flowing blue hair and fuller hips, while another Barbie is petite with dark skin and black curls piled in an updo, in addition to a few Barbies that are Asian-looking with almond-shaped eyes.
“This is the appropriate evolutionary step to keep Barbie as a cultural icon for parents to buy for their kids,” Copic said.
Click here for more on the new Barbies.