NEW YORK (FOX 5 NY) - Barbie has been a favorite toy among girls for the last 60 years. Debuting at the New York Toy Fair in 1959, as a blonde bombshell in a bathsuit, she made quite a splash. But over the years as cultural norms have changed, so have people's feelings toward the doll.
Now, Barbie is back and bigger than ever.
Doll sales are up thanks in part to a strategy to change the way you think about the brand.
While they still have the Barbie and Ken many of us grew up with, Mattel also introducted the 'fashionista line.' It includes dolls that are more diverse in ethnicity and Body type. There are petite barbies and curvy barbies and more than 100 combinations of skin tone, eye color and hair texture.
New this year, Barbie in a wheel chair and Barbie with a prostetic leg.
So, did people notice the change? Adults that grew up with the original Barbie sure did! But for kids in our panel the change was barely noticable with a few exceptions.
While the change to the design of Barbie is a step in the right direction, when it comes to body image, it likely didn't go far enough, said Psychologist Dr. Rebecca Hershberg.
Buying inclusive dolls is a great first step in creating a more inclusive society but it's more about the other messages parents are sending outside of the toy store. And while the kids may be watching for mom and dad's approval, when it comes to Barbie they are just excited to play.
That's a word we heard a lot: Barbie's worth may still only be skin deep. But Mattel says it's a goal for Barbie to teach kids about various career options In fact, Barbie has had more than 200 jobs with a new emphasis on STEM jobs.
The parents of the the kids we spoke to say the doll is a great role model for their daughters. The Barbie 'fashionista line' is still marketed in stores as a separate line, making diversity seem like an alternative rather than the norm.
Mattel told us fashionistas are the main fashion dolls, while other Barbie lines include careers, dreamtopia, role models, and Barbie collector.