Thursday, 23 June 2016

Curvy Barbie Fashionista Review

As a feminist mum to a doll loving little girl I have often worried about the gender stereotypes they promote. Tiny waists, large boobs and impossibly long slender legs seem to always be the norm. They are white and blonde, cisgendered and able bodied. Its hard not to wonder if Barbie promotes sexist ideals on what it is to be a woman.

I was lucky in a way as the Monster High Craze took off just as Baba discovered dolls. Although still promoting a very thin body shape,  the whole story arc behind the franchise is that they are  all descendants of monsters. The cartoons focused on them being misfits who found support within a community and embraced their differences. As toy obsessions go it could be worse.
That's not to say we don't have a few Barbies because we do. The Barbie films have always been firm favorites (I found the mother load of the DVDs at a car-boot a few years back so we have watched them all quite  a few times, "Barbie and the Diamond castle" was four year old Baba's absolutely fave) so inevitably we have picked up some of the dolls along the way.

The news that the Barbie fashionista range was going to bring out a selection of dolls incorporating different body shapes, heights, ethnicities and  hair colours was long overdue and we have been rather excited to get our hands on the "Curvy" Barbie Fashionista"
They went on sale just before Baba's birthday so we of course brought her one (at £9.99 they are also very affordable) There are a couple in the "Curvy" range but we chose the Sweetheart Curvy barbie. With very cool blue and black hair wearing a denim skirt and punky looking top she is very different from the usual blonde Barbie.

As soon as we took her out of the box it was apparent that the doll has a much fuller figure. She has big hips, a large bottom and is generally a bit bigger all over than the usual Barbie Doll.

The new Curvy barbie next to the classic fashionista Barbie
For a bit of fun we compared the new Barbie (who is now called Giselle) to one of Baba's classic barbies to see how much difference there really. When Baba was little she was obsessed with stripping all her dolls naked so this was all in  a days work for her.

 It was interesting to see how the proportions of the Curvy Barbie were generally less pronounced. A tummy that looks like it can hold intestines, legs without a vast thigh gap and a neck that looks like it could actually hold the weight of a brain.

Barbie got back

Its probably a sign of the times that Curvy Barbie has lots of Booty. In fact she has more than a hint of a Khardasian look about her.
What will be obvious to you all by now that whilst the new Curvy Barbie does have a fuller figure she is far from fat. Curvy is not a euphemism for overweight. She in fact possesses what is considered (if you flick through women's magazines or watch music videos) a very socially desirable weight distribution with a flat tummy, smallish breasts and a large bottom. Would I have liked her to be fatter-to be honest yes but my ten year old disagreed and perhaps her opinion is more important.
When I quizzed Baba on the doll she absolutely loved it. It presented a body shape that she could easily relate to and she loved the blue hair and general kick ass look of the doll. I did ask if she would like the doll to be bigger and was met with a firm no. She felt the doll was really great as she was. 
Its a thumbs up from Baba

Looking at the other dolls on offer within this range it was great to see tall and petite dolls offered, red haired Barbies and Asian and Black Barbies. These choices not only allow parents to buy their children dolls that look more like them,  but also to buy their kids dolls which reflect the vibrant multi cultural country we live in. 
The one doll missing from the original press releases I saw was a  androgynous looking doll with short hair and a suit on. I'm not sure why this isn't available in the UK but a gender fluid doll would be such a great addition to any kids toy box so I was sad to see that wasn't there.

On a practical note for anyone buying these for a child who already has a lot of dolls, the new body shape means the majority of the standard Barbie Doll clothes wont fit. Stretchy clothes from other Fashionista dolls work and Monster High shoes fit the feet but that's about it.
This definitely feels like a step in the right direction. It would be great to also see some dolls with cochlear implants, wheelchairs and birthmarks next. Society is made up of so many different kinds of bodies, which is what makes its so wonderful-how exciting to think our children's toys could reflect that.
A welcome addition to our toybox
The Curvy barbies can be purchased at Amazon here
I also filmed a short review video with baba for my Youtube channel. Watch that here.


Brand New eco Design  over at  Nicky Rockets
Printed on climate neutral, fair trade tees in water based ink. 

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