The Diversification of Dolls

2016 is looking to be a banner year in terms of diversity, at least when it comes to tiny plastic people. 

Mattel has just announced they will be rolling out new Barbie® dolls throughout 2016 that will offer "choices that are better reflective of the world they see today". Each Fashionistas™ doll will come in one of four body types: curvy, petite, tall and original and the line will include 7 skin tones, 18 eye colors and hairstyles.

Screenshot from Mattel.com that displays variety of dolls being released throughout 2016

Screenshot from Mattel.com that displays variety of dolls being released throughout 2016

I applaud this foray into creating playthings that reflect the real world in which we live. By including minorities and different sized dolls, the children who play with them will more likely feel themselves and their friends and family better represented. This can have a beneficial impact on their self-esteem as it relates to their place in the world in general. Like seeing people who are similar to their own physical and racial type such as models in fashion campaigns and actors on the big screen, having toys that reflect an inclusive society will acknowledge the world is a massive place with an endless variety of 'types' and each belongs and is worthy of having and realizing their dreams.  

Barbie wasn't the first doll to come on the marketplace that reflects a real woman. Lammily introduced their dolls last year after a long but fruitful crowd funding campaign. The response indicated how desperately the public wanted a realistic fashion doll and I suppose the powers that be at Mattel took notice.

Last year, Lammily also introduced a 'Period Party Kit' that includes an educational pamphlet, a pair of panties, a calendar with dot stickers and 15 reusable pads and liner stickers.  The goal was to start an open and positive conversations about the often taboo subject of periods. 

Screen shot from Lammily.com highlighting contents of their 'Period Party Kit'

Screen shot from Lammily.com highlighting contents of their 'Period Party Kit'

Not exactly a fashion doll company, but American Girl has been around since 1986 and they've always offered a variety of dolls in different hair, eyes and skin colours that reflect the diversity found within the world. 

A sampling of American Girl's Truly Me™ Doll line. 

A sampling of American Girl's Truly Me™ Doll line. 

This year, for the first time, they are selling a Diabetes Care Kit for Dolls after being inspired by a petition from Anja Busse, now 13, who suffers from the disease and wanted a doll that truly is "like her". This kit has won rave reviews from parents, teachers and health professionals and is a testament to how far the company will go to acknowledge and produce toys that are realistic. 

Screenshot from AmericanGirl.com

Screenshot from AmericanGirl.com

This trend is empowering to all girls as not only can they find a lifelike version of themselves but the diverse selection available in the doll aisle will highlight the diversity of the general population which will hopefully lead to more inclusive and tolerant young women.