This Monday was the 56th anniversary of the Barbie doll’s original release. Since Barbie sales have been slumping over the past few years, an article predicting that due to our changing ideas of beauty, Barbie is no longer relevant and will soon be on her way out of the doll aisle (approximately the umpteen thousandth one, according to my very unscientific calculations) published by Time (http://time.com/3667580/mattel-barbie-earnings-plus-size-body-image/) has reappeared on In The Pink, a Barbie message board I lurk on but have never officially joined. Many media outlets have already anointed Lammily, the fashion doll made with the proportions of the average American woman, Barbie’s successor, and Time appears to be going down the same road.
A message for Time: I call bovine scatology of the highest order. While Lammily may be tailor-made for the current cultural shift, so far she doesn’t offer much in the way of aspirational play beyond her average figure, girl-next-door vibe, and cultural relevance. Introducing career costumes for Lammily the way Barbie has tackled over 135 careers would go a long way here, but given that she’s the product of a brand-new startup, I don’t see that happening soon. It’s true that Mattel is currently stuck in a rut-I believe the rut is because they’re focusing on their youngest customer demographic, 3-6 year olds, and cranking out what that demographic wants: blonde hair, blue eyes, minimal articulation, princess and/or fairy and/or mermaid and/or mythical or delicate creature fill-in-the-blank, doused in pink and glitter, and most with molded-on bodices to satisfy prudish moms-but if enough fans complain, they can reverse that rut for much less time and money than Lammily’s manufacturers can start making career costumes for her.
Here’s a photo of Barbie and her friends in their finest blacks. Do they look like they’re going away soon or quietly?
For those of you who are interested, here’s identification for these dolls, left to right: Summer-Fashionistas In the Spotlight Summer, Barbie-Generation Girl Barbie 1st edition with the ankle tattoo, Raquelle-LITD Raquelle, Midge-redhead Pretty in Plaid Barbie (she looks more like Midge to me than any of the Midges I got as a kid), Nikki-Fashionistas Glitter Wave Nikki, Teresa-Glam ‘n Groom Teresa.