Like a real multifaceted and inspirational woman, Mattel's Barbie has just earned a top global award

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Barbie 2021 Fashionistas. (Image supplied by Mattel)
Barbie 2021 Fashionistas. (Image supplied by Mattel)
  • Mattel, Inc. announced that its iconic Barbie brand has been named the 2020 top global toy property of the year by the NPD Group in recognition of its ongoing diversity efforts.
  • The leading toy brand is continuing its journey to represent global diversity and inclusivity in the fashion doll aisle with a new Fashionista lineup, including a Barbie with vitiligo. 
  • In addition to their Barbie dolls showcasing over 200 careers, Mattel offers a gender-neutral doll, while others come in five body types, 22 skin tones, 76 hairstyles, 94 hair tones and 13 eye colours. 

Barbie's ongoing bid to encourage children to be who - and whatever - they want to be has earned them a top award.

Mattel, Inc. announced that its iconic Barbie brand has been named the 2020 top global toy property of the year by the NPD Group, a leading global information company in recognition of its diversity efforts.

A world where children can see their limitless aspirations reflected in the plastic they handle is a world we also want to play in, and as such, Barbie has been a film director, entrepreneur, robotics engineer, video game developer and a judge.

"Barbie has had over 200 careers. We like to say, 'there isn't a plastic ceiling that Barbie hasn't broken'," Barbie global brand manager Lisa McKnight, said when they released the Barbie judge doll in 2019.

The company had created the Barbie Fashionistas line in 2015 - different to their Barbie Career Dolls range - after years of drawing criticism for promoting a slim, white, domestic image.

And in 2021, Barbie is continuing its journey to represent global diversity and inclusivity in the fashion doll aisle with a new Fashionista lineup, including Ken in a wheelchair, Ken with rooted hair reflecting an afro and Barbie with lighter skin with vitiligo – all for the first time.

The brand is also rolling out new product packaging that includes a reusable bag for kids to carry their dolls and improve portable play. 

READ MORE: Mattel's efforts to make Barbie more inclusive paying off in record-breaking sales  

The Barbie Fashionistas line is where the brand delivers the most diversity and inclusion and, since its inception, Barbie has introduced more than 175+ looks, offering girls a variety of skin tones, eye colours, hair colours and textures, body types and fashions to choose from. 

mattel


Image supplied by Mattel

Lisa McKnight, Senior Vice President and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel, says:

“As Barbie accelerates to new heights as the No.1 global toy property, the message is clear that the Barbie brand is more relevant than ever. As the most diverse fashion doll line on the market, we take great responsibility in better reflecting the world around us and know there are many positive benefits to exposing children to dolls with different skin tones, hair types, abilities and more.

“We are proud to offer an even wider range of diverse choices with the latest Barbie Fashionistas line so more kids see themselves reflected in our doll line.”   

Mattel then expanded its range last year by adding a doll with a prosthetic limb and another in a wheelchair. The line also introduced the first Barbie to wear a hijab in 2017. They have also since added pioneers and global icons to their collections, including Rosa Parks, Maya Angelou, Katherine Johnson and Ella Fitzgerald.

READ MORE: Barbie has a new sister, and she's (almost literally) slaying in that hijab 

The Fashionistas line already features over 170 "diverse dolls". 

Over the past five years, the line has evolved to be more reflective of the world girls see around them by introducing more than 170 new looks, including: 

- More skin tones, hair colours and textures, eye colours and facial structures (sculpts).

- Body diversity including tall, petite, curvy and a doll with a smaller bust, less defined waist and more defined arms.

- Dolls reflecting permanent disabilities, including a doll with a prosthetic limb and doll with a wheelchair and ramp. 

- Updated Ken looks with a variety of skin tones, bodies, eye colours and hairstyles.

- Mattel now offers Barbie dolls that come in five body types, 22 skin tones, 76 hairstyles, 94 hair colours and 13 eye colours.

- Ken dolls are available in four body types, 18 sculpts, 13 skin tones, nine eye colours and 22 hair colours. 

In 2020, Barbie then continued to represent global diversity and inclusivity in the fashion doll space by showcasing a multi-dimensional view of beauty and fashion by adding these dolls that represent lesser celebrated aesthetic identities;

A doll with no hair 

Reflective of hair trends seen from catwalks to the sidewalks. If a girl is experiencing hair loss for any reason, she can see herself reflected in the line. 

A doll with a darker skin tone that uses a gold prosthetic limb 

In 2019, Barbie introduced dolls reflecting permanent disabilities, including a doll with a prosthetic limb, by collaborating with then 12-year-old Jordan Reeves, who is on a mission to build creative solutions that help kids with disabilities, to create a play experience that is as representative as possible. This year, they have expanded the offering to include a second doll with a darker skin tone that uses a prosthetic limb.   

barbie mattel diversity

Image supplied by Mattel

A Barbie doll with vitiligo 

As the company continues to redefine what it means to be a “Barbie” or look like Barbie, offering a doll with vitiligo in its main doll line allows kids to play out even more stories they see in the world around them.

To design this doll, Mattel worked with a dermatologist to ensure vitiligo was accurately represented. A prototype was debuted on Barbie’s Instagram account @BarbieStyle in 2019, becoming the handle's most ‘liked’ post ever.  

barbie mattel diversity
Image supplied by Mattel

Announcing their 2020 Fashionistas range, Lisa McKnight had revealed that over half of all the dolls sold worldwide in 2019 were diverse dolls.

"Of the top ten best-sellers, seven were diverse, including the doll that uses a wheelchair," she said.

"In the UK, both of the Barbie dolls with wheelchairs were the #1 and #2 bestselling individual Fashionista dolls while globally, the #1 bestselling individual Fashionista doll of 2019 was a curvy black doll with afro hair."

Additional information and images supplied by Brand Alley PR on behalf of Mattel

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