Mattel Revamps Barbie Doll for Kids Ages 3 and Up

Mattel Revamps Barbie Doll for Kids Ages 3 and Up

Mattel Revamps Barbie Doll for Kids Ages 3 and Up

Love her or hate her, Barbie is transforming again, this time in a version for kids as young as 3 years old.

Gone is the controversial hourglass of My First Barbie, which launched Thursday ahead of July’s live-action film about the icon starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling.

The slightly softer-bodied Barbie follows the high heels of the tall, petite and curvy iterations that launched five years ago in a massive makeover.

My first Barbie is 13.5 inches tall, 2 inches taller than traditional Babs, with a wider waistline that smooths out the bust line (it stays in place though) and permanently attached flesh-colored modesty underwear .

Her fashion is more childish, with playful patterns of hearts, stars, and flowers on pajamas and ruffled dresses and bathing suits suitable for preschoolers. Her accessories are bigger for little hands and her hair is extra long for easy brushing.

My First Barbie’s limbs are movable, like some earlier versions of the doll, and her facial features remain recognizable. One milestone: her fingers and thumbs are connected, eliminating a common complaint that Barbie’s hands get caught in her clothes when kids try to put them on.

Lisa McKnight, executive vice president of Mattel and global head of Barbie and dolls, told The Associated Press that the company created the new version in response to feedback from parents.

“We talk to parents and children nearly 365 days a year,” she said. “We started to hear a theme around young children wanting to play with Barbie. Parents worried that their preschoolers wouldn’t have the fine motor skills to have a positive play experience with our traditional fashion doll.

The first rollout of the new doll includes four different skin tones and hair textures.

Critics of the 63-year-old Barbie, intended to symbolize a girl in her late teens, have long cited her dimensions as promoting sexualized body standards that are unattainable for girls. My First Barbie, priced at $19.99, goes a long way towards eliminating this problem.

McKnight wouldn’t directly respond to the criticism or whether My First Barbie has any place in overturning this negative view.

Research is mixed on whether Barbie’s bad reputation on body issues and her adult fashion sense have an effect on children, said Jody LeVos, once head of the children’s development and learning team. of Mattel and now director of learning for Begin, a company that creates learning apps and other educational fare for kids.

Among parents, she says, “there’s a big nostalgia factor” when it comes to Barbie.

“I don’t think there’s a specific doll that’s most appropriate. I think doll play lets kids really practice storytelling skills, perspective taking, and social interaction,” LeVos said. .

Overall sales of the Barbie line have soared in recent years after a period of decline in 2013.

Joaniko Kohchi, director of the Institute for Parenthood at Adelphi University, questioned Mattel’s motives.

“If we’re going to think about Mattel to guide our choices, we’ve already kind of limited them,” she said.

McKnight made it clear that My First Barbie would not be a separate, parallel Barbie universe. She said new content featuring the doll will be coming to Barbie’s YouTube channel later this month, along with an animated special about planning a surprise party.

Andrea Werner, a pediatric occupational therapist in West Hartford, Conn., and mother of a preschooler and baby, says doll play is valuable for development.

“There are a lot of dolls on the market,” she said. “Companies will always try to sell consumers the next best thing.”

Kohchi is not fully sold on My First Barbie, as it should be.

“We know that if you give a picture to a child and say, it’s beautiful or it’s wonderful or look how pretty it should look a little more like the child,” she said. . “It’s definitely still a bit older than a preschooler.”

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