We used to play with her, Aqua wrote a song about her, and at one point or the other, we all thought that she embodied womanly perfection on a physical level. Yes, Barbie, in all of her iterations followed the majority of us from childhood into early adolescence. But for the last few decades, every girl's (or boy's) favourite playmate has faced a great deal of controversy. Barbie has been accused of promoting an unhealthy body image, and it's not hard to see why; what with her impossibly tiny waist, skeletal frame and stick thin legs.
However, Mattel, the company behind the popular children's toy has endeavoured to update the doll, bringing her more in line with society as it stands today. As such, Barbie has undergone quite the transformation. In her biggest update since 1959, Mattel unveiled three new body types, all of which are more representative of a healthy, everyday woman. They feature buxom busts, curvy hips, plump stomachs and in some models, even hormonal acne and stretch marks.
And now, Mattel has taken it one step further, giving Barbie her first girlfriend.
Yes, Barbie came out this week. And about time too. Official photographs of Barbie and her new girlfriend were featured on Mattel's "Barbie Style" Instagram page, and they're both pictured sporting marriage equality and LGBTQ awareness "Love Wins" T-shirts.
The post is captioned:
"Proud to wear this “Love Wins” shirt with @songofstyle! Did you know that her exclusive t-shirts benefit different causes and non-profits? Such an inspiring initiative and fabulous few days I have spent with Aimee, she’s a doll! #barbie #barbiestyle."
While it doesn't explicitly state that Barbie is gay, it's made pretty clear - and in any case, we're not going to challenge it.
Naturally, Twitter had quite the field day with the news, hailing it as a breakthrough moment for LGBTQ rights. One user wrote, "2017 is the year Barbie realised she's a lesbian I'm so happy for her" while another hilariously added, "Barbie has been gay... i had one ken doll and about 17 barbie dolls so the one straight couple was the minority in my dollhouse".
But this comment has to take the cake: "barbie is gay, her skin is glowing, just got her hair done, got a cute emo gf who wears chokers. literally living her BEST life."
The move to make Barbie more LGBTQ friendly is certainly in line with Mattel's new mission statement. Speaking about the doll's recent cosmetic changes, senior vice-president and Barbie's global general manager, Evelyn Mazzocco asserted:
"We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them. We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty."
And good on them too. I look forward to seeing a new generation of young women, who, unlike us, have benefitted from having more diverse depictions of sexuality and what it means to be a "woman" from a young age.