The Barbie Experience: Equal Representation

Growing up, for many young girls and myself included, having a Barbie represented dispelling reality to create a fantasy world where pint-size figurines took over the world in amazing fashions. Having the option to dress my plastic friend in clothes I wished existed in my closet amplified my desire to own a Barbie. The plethora of style options I owned allowed me to create any kind of Barbie I wanted with the change of an outfit.

It didn’t dawn on me that a representation of myself was lacking in my created Barbie world until Mattel, the toy manufacturing company for Barbie, produced a replica doll of the singer Brandy(1999) and the movie Life-Size(2000) was released, which depicted model Tyra Bank playing a Barbie doll turned human. Seeing a different version, besides the predominately white, bleach blond hair and anorexic skinny plastic figure, of Barbie allowed me to contrive an utopia where a sense of my identity was displayed in the world I created in my head.


It is estimated that a billion Barbie dolls have been sold in over 150 countries with three Barbie dolls approximately selling every second. Barbie is a cultural icon that represents American fashion and beauty standards. Due to Barbie’s image, the doll received major criticism, with many stating that the doll is sexual provocative and portrays an unrealistic image of female beauty. The popular toy communicates to the world that only one identity of beauty exist.

Attempting to change the iconic image, Barbie recently introduced the evolution of Barbie call the Fashionista which highlights four different body types (petite, curvy and tall), seven various skin tones and a myriad of eye colors and hairstyles.

Further revolutionizing Barbie’s image, Haneefah Adam, medical scientist and blogger, created garments that showcase a more modesty look for Barbie called @hijarbie. The 24-year-old from Nigeria told that she wanted to have a doll that looked like her.

“I want them to be inspired — this is about having an alternative and creating an awareness of having toys that adopts your religion and culture and in your own likeness,” mentioned Adam “at the end of the day, leads to an improvement in self-esteem.”

How do you feel about the evolution of Barbie?