I can’t remember when I started playing with Barbies… I only remember playing with them way past the time it was considered cool. I had, like, one other friend I could drag my suitcase of Barbies to, but for the rest of my friends, I was a 12 year old who thought Barbies were dumb and pretending to kiss boys on a bed was way more appropriate.
Gigi, you have my full permission to play Barbies until you are 35.
Barbie has done all sorts of unilateral evolution, never quite straying far from the Original model. Her hair changed a bit, various arm bends and upgraded joint bending. Some have real lashes, some cooler jobs, but proportionately… the same.
And then, Mattel lost Disney. And this is a big deal. Mattel has always handled all the Disney toy merchandising, which explains why every Disney Princess doll is basically a differently accessorized Barbie. But as of January 2016, Hasbro has taken that over, and let me tell you? Fucking rocking it. The dolls now look like their animated partners, and doll availability has increased, as in, you can actually go to the store and get Mulan or Pocahontas as easily as you can grab Elsa or Ariel.
Now, sometimes losing something leads to being forced to change. And maybe it was that push that led to Mattel expanding their brand to meet a whole new doll demographic. Mattel just unleashed a whole slew of, frankly, bad ass new dolls with a range of body types (curvy, tall and petite), and various new skin tones, hair textures and colors. To say Gigi and I are excited is an understatement.
Because this matters. It matters because it’s infinitely important for me to provide Gigi with a tangible example that life happens to women outside of the typical standard of beauty. There is so much value in seeing someone that looks like me or her doing exciting things; like having careers or romance or best friends… even if for now, those things are just pretend play on her bedroom floor. The inspiration and possibility is there because she can see it, first hand, in a doll that represents her, instead of trying to see herself in the body and life of someone else entirely.
Here are my 5 hopes for Curvy Barbie:
5. I hope you have a way more clothing options than us real plus size girls started out with, but if you are looking for curvy street cred, I wouldn’t say no to an animated movie called The Shopping Adventures of Wide-Calf Barbie or Barbie and the Incorrect Bra Size.
4. I hope your plus size body evolves. Plus size isn’t a body shape, it’s a size range, and we come in lots of them. Tall, short, small boobs, big boobs… I am crushing hard on your right now, and appreciate your curvy hips and small boobs, because I know those women exist and aren’t often represented well in fashion. But selfishly, this tall plus size girl with big boobs would love more options.
3. I hope that you don’t end up a relic from a temporary moment of body positivity that passes silently in favor of more of the same.
2. I hope no one puts limitations on your dating life. While I’m perfectly fine if they roll out Curvy Ken, please don’t let it be in response to Curvy Barbie needing a date. Curvy Barbie should be able to date anyone she wants, from Original Ken to Midge. Or, you know, no one at all. We do what we want.
1. I hope you are never the fat best friend. I have read many articles about Mattel’s fear in selling you on the shelf solo; the worry that no one will want to buy a plus size doll, less they be labeled fat themselves, so instead they wanted to combine you with an Original sized doll and sell you as a set. First of all, we curvy girls have been the fun best friend before, and we’re tired of it. We’re starring role sorta girls these days. Second, this fear of being called fat for buying a curvy doll and fat being a bad thing is not a child concern, it’s a parent concern. Playing with curvy dolls won’t make kids fat, but shaming them, being scared of them and restricting their play and education to limited body standards might.