A Barbie World

Words by Isabelle Earl

Although it is common to understand the year of 2016 to be the last time all of us were truly happy, 2019 was indubitably monumental for minority groups in a multitude of ways, small or large. Makeup companies are finally starting to recognize 10 shades of foundation isn’t enough. Clothing lines are discovering that people's bodies come in all shapes and sizes (although, women’s pockets still can’t even hold my chapstick—let’s work on that in 2020). Media is starting to bring actors of different genders, sexualities, races, and disabilities to the forefront. There’s still a long way to go, but 2019 was refreshing. It made diversity a priority.

A good way to range how well 2019 did in terms of inclusivity is to look at the evolution of Barbie, the fashion doll manufactured by American toy company Mattel Inc. These dolls—the reason for making me hate my short legs—have been known to make girls feel insecure. They were traditionally only white, blonde, tall, and skinny dolls. For a while, these were the only dolls I had. This was all I had to look at, and it made me look at myself differently.

Now Barbie celebrates women and men of all backgrounds. In fact, their website is currently honoring Black History Month with a section of only Black dolls. These dolls include men and women in fashion, other careers, and activism. This is important for children everywhere. Knowing what it was like to only have the stereotypical Barbie while growing up, I am ecstatic to know that children are playing with dolls that represent them and their friends—not just the skinny blonde girls.

Barbie also has a long line of dolls that represent the disabiled community. These include dolls using wheelchairs and having visible prosthetics. Earlier in 2019, Target did a similar thing with their models in the children’s section. They placed children with disabilities on large billboards modeling their clothing, and mother’s around the world were taking photos of their children’s amazement with the representation.

An additional way in which Barbie exemplified the move towards diversity was with their curvy doll collection. This is so important for self-love and body appreciation. They also just produced a petite line of dolls as well, which would have been life-changing for my childhood. Representation matters so much, and this past year companies started to understand this.

Inclusive dolls are just one way in which diversity was praised in 2019. Barbie is a prime example of the change that is occuring in society. Diversity is now praised, rather than hidden. 2019 was the year in which I became comfortable with the shocking truth that it’s okay to not be tall, skinny, and blonde. What’s important is that you be yourself, and love it all the more. The world is changing, and acceptance is the new trend.