As a '90s baby who has grown up into a world that feels the need to categorize weight into clean-cut categories, when I saw that Barbie had released a "curvy" Barbie, I was ecstatic. I called my mom to tell her not to yell at me when she saw that some of my allotted food money was going to purchase a Barbie doll... at age 20. But then I began to investigate further and realized these dolls were a little to good to be true. While Barbie is certainly on to something with varying sizes, shapes, hair color, and means of expression for young girls, we are all still living in a Barbie world.
Last time I checked, most girls that have a large thigh gap do not identify as curvy. Or they are very much in shape and work out a lot in order to maintain curves and that gap between the thighs that society is currently obsessed with. Yet on Barbie's homepage, if you navigate yourself to the section labeled "curvy," you find dolls with slightly wider breast, skinny faces with defined cheekbones, a tiny waist, and then the curvy aspect: Beyonce-inspired hips that do not have the thighs to match. It is easy to see what Barbie was attempting, skinny and curvy is in thanks to the big booty obsession that is permeating rap music, red carpet events, and at-home workout routines. It is evident that women like Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, and JLo all have widened the gap in what society considers pretty, yet these people also work extremely hard to maintain these images -- whether through workouts and diet, or in some cases surgery, playing into the idea of "curvy perfection."
I identify with this movement and certainly like the fact that this new beauty standard deviates slightly from the idea that women need to be super skinny with big breasts in order to be considered pretty (the kind of pretty Barbie has defined for decades). Yet Barbie's attempt at this plays into "curvy perfection."
This is certainly a step in the right direction. The doll does not promote obesity or the original Barbie image that has been proven time and time again as completely unrealistic. Yet the way Barbie chooses to portray curviness can cause an impact as well. Curvy Barbie seems to come with appropriate plus-sized clothes, dresses, florals, and cinched waistbands to draw the eye to the skinniest part of the body -- implying, as society tends to do, that women with curves have special attire they need to wear to look as skinny as possible.
Barbie is taking a step in the right direction, helping young girls identify with dolls that may look more like them. Yet it is important to realize that Barbies are still made to portray a sense of societal perfection -- regardless of the sizes, shapes, heights, or hair colors that they may be including.