Episode 77: The Evolution of Barbie

This is radical because we’re saying ‘But there isn’t this narrow standard of what a body looks like’...This is what our future looks like because this is what the world looks like.
— Robest Best, Senior Director of Product Design
They’re seeing the differences amongst their friends and family being celebrated.
— Nicole Guice, Senior Designer

Despite the importance of personal representation and its increasing relevance in our public and political discussions, we do not often examine issues of representation on the micro level. In 2016, Mattel has made the decision to now release Barbie dolls in three new body shapes, seven new skin tones, twenty-two eye colors and twenty-four hairstyles. How will consumer preferences dictate purchases of these new models? Will those playing with these new models of Barbie identify with body-types and aesthetics other than their own? How might new skin tones affect (or fail to initiate) conversations surrounding race and racial identity?