Barbie is the most successful doll in the world, and virtually every adolescent and teenager knows who the blonde-headed, eleven and a half inch tall doll is. In celebration of International Women’s Day, Barbie released a collectible line of 19 dolls that represent some of today’s most influential women, as well as pioneering heroines from throughout history. The Inspirational Women collection features inspiring women from our past who had a powerful impact on the feminist movement. The second half of the new release is part of the brand’s growing collection of ‘Shero dolls’, which represent modern women who have changed perceptions of females in their fields of work.

Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking the change means Mattel has your daughter’s best interests at heart.

Looking carefully at this range of dolls, one could not help observing that The run-of-the-mill doll version of the deceased Mexican artist Frida Kahlo fails to depict the iconic unibrow, her figure and other body hair which were an integral part of her appearance and distinguished her from the crowd.

Barbies “Shero” programme began back in 2015 and aimed to represent female role models in their true likeness. The brand says that “Barbie is committed to shining a light on empowering role models past and present in an effort to inspire more girls,”

The “Shero” line honors 14 modern-day role models from around the world.

From left to right: Spanish entrepreneur and fashion designer Vicky Martin Berrocal; Chinese actress and philanthropist Xiaotong Guan; Australian wildlife conservationist Bindi Irwin; Italian soccer player Sara Gama; American Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim.

From left to right: Polish journalist Martyna Wojciechowska; British boxing champion Nicola Adams; Chinese prima ballerina Yuan Yuan Tan; American filmmaker and “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins.

From left to right: World-renowned French chef Hélène Darroze; Chinese volleyball champion Hui Ruoqi; German designer and entrepreneur Leyla Piedayesh.

According to financial analysts the company was losing sales; obviously, it realises that branding something as empowering is a great marketing tool.

Personally, I never liked Barbie when I was a child, obviously I would play with my sisters dolls, (dress up). As a girl and my sisters would say this too, we didn’t focus on Barbie’s body proportions, we didn’t realise she was unrealistic, we only learned that when society told us that something was wrong later in life. I can remember my mum not being to keen on her, she preferred Sindy (British version) and tried to steer us away from Barbie, sadly I cannot ask my mum why as she has passed over, but my mother was very strong and very much a feminist at heart. When it came to my daughter requesting one, I was, oh so very reluctant in buying one, the ritual of dressing up and doing hair wasn’t something I necessarily wanted to bequeath. I preferred my daughter to build, to create, to imagine. However, I did relent and purchase a Bratz, nanny bought ‘The Barbie’. And yes, I fell into the ritual and dressing and brushing the hair.

Over the years Barbie has transformed so many times and Mattel boast that since debuting in 1959, Barbie has been depicted as a computer engineer, astronaut, CEO, doctor, dentist, police officer, Ashley Graham, Ava DuVernay, and president of the United States — (the pink suit and pearls) typical stereotyping / but in all these boastful 150 jobs “Barbie” has always been “Barbie” in some weird way. Mattel says that it “tries to inspire girls to test the limits and reach for their dreams, not conform to society” but isn’t that what the company is doing by releasing the unrealistic International Day Dolls?

Barbie as Lara Croft. Lara also comes with a map, a journal, and a display stand. She sports a sleeveless tank, belted skinny pants, and modestly heeled boots.

Barbie has now turned badass as they have released a Lara Croft version. Now this “Barbie” doesn’t look like “Barbie” at all complete with climbing tool or weapon ? But what has tickled me to bits is the “Wrinkle in Time” Barbies.

Meet Mrs. Which, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Whatsit, these three women are powerful warriors made of stardust, whom help Meg Murry who embarks on an epic adventure across the universe to find her missing father.

Gigglefest begin … the central character is played by Oprah Winfrey, who in the film is marvellously dumpy.

Facial sculpt: Mrs. Which (Oprah Winfrey)

Mrs. Which is the most ancient and wise of the three celestial beings.

But true to Barbie form, Mrs Which has been slimmed down and not one crease lines her forehead.

Facial sculpt: Mrs. Who (Mindy Kaling)

Mrs Who could be described as quite eccentric, using her diamond spectacles to see things otherwise hidden to the eye.

Facial sculpt: Mrs.Whatsit (Reese Witherspoon)

Mrs. Whatsit is the most youthful and free-spirited warrior, who can transform into a magnificent flying creature in the film.

Mattel’s Sean Olmos, said on the sculpted likenesses of Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling, and Reese Witherspoon “I think he definitely captured and honored each actress beautifully”.

These ‘black label’ barbies are a tad pricey at $50 a punch, ooooo and they have ‘Justice League’ Barbies too hmmmmm I think I better stop as I’m getting excited.

So has Barbie truly lost her identity in all these ‘Shereos’ and new empowering creations or is it just a gimmick and a wrinkle in time?

Twiggie, 2018


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