Is It Body-Image Barbie or Outdated Barbie?

Opinions Editor

Surprisingly, one of the most famous toys
in American history is de- clining in sales. The 54-year-old Barbie brand isnot selling enough Barbie dolls.

“Sales of Mattel’s iconic Barbie fell for a third consecutive year in 2014,” Mattel said. Barbie’s sales have been in decline for some time, but the recent losses are particularly steep. Jim Silver, Editor-in-Chief of the website, said that the compa- ny’s age demographic used to be between the ages of three to nine. However, he said it is now a narrower three to six. The sales decline for Barbie also led to the toy company to get rid of its CEO. Mattel also brought back Richard Dickson, now co-president. His reinstatement could also do with the fact that he previously ran Barbie during her glory days. Of course, this raises the question: Why are little girls turning their backs on Barbie?

One possible explanation for the decline is Barbie’s possible impact on female body image. Barbie has been heavily criticized for her too-thin frame, heavy makeup and impossibly large cup-size. She has also been criticized for some of the widely controver- sial dolls (pregnancy and puberty Barbies).

Parents may now be deciding to give their little girls dolls that are better role models. Mattel may find itself leaning on its non-Barbie dolls more and more as parents and children seek out more relatable dolls.

American Girl is an alternative-doll line that looks a lot more like the young girls they are produced for. They have chub- by-cheeks, freckles and are made match the buyer. However, the whopping prices of the doll, at over $100, has a much steeper price tag than Barbie.

It is no surprise that buyers are increas- ingly attracted to Mattel’s other offering: the Monster High Dolls, which are part-human, part-monster teenage fashionistas. The products encourage tweens to embrace their inner freak. Arguably, these “scary” dolls also rock the insanely small body frame. Yes, they do have that unrealistic waist line, but they are flawed. Maybe not in the way most would think—acne, frizzy hair or body fat— but monster stitches, funky skin and eye color are what make these toys popularly flawed. Monster High dolls are better than Barbie — they are spreading out and stepping in the right direction.