Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

“Imagine the possibilities”: Has Barbie finally found a way to empower a new generation of women?

Screen Shot 2015-10-16 at 11.19.14.png

Barbie has long been a point of contention for feminists. Be it her biologically impossible body measurements, her narrow ideas of beauty or the limited career choices the doll’s creators have made for her, Barbie has never really managed to empower.

A shame, given the influence toys can have over the minds and attitudes of young girls.

But with the launch of a new advert from Mattel, that might be about to change. Barbie finally looks like she might be on track with the feminist message.

The advert sees little girls assuming the position of professional women – one is a university professor, one a vet, while another coaches a male American football squad – with the strapline: ‘Imagine the possibilities’.

Mattel Barbie advert

The TV advert begins with the question: “What happens when girls are free to imagine they can be anything?” It then cuts straight to what Mattel is calling ‘hidden camera footage’ of confident young girls taking on the roles of science lecturer, vet, business woman, sports coach and museum tour guide.

It’s not until the end, that we learn the girls are simply playing with Barbies, and their 'professions' are them letting their imaginations wander.

The ad is intended to be a reworking of the Barbie message, aiming to take a more empowering approach to helping girls dream big.

Talking to Adweek, Evelyn Mazzocco, global senior vice-president and general manager of Barbie, says the advert is part of an “ongoing brand evolution that is designed to encourage parents to reappraise the role Barbie can play in [a] child's life.”

“We want to remind the world what Barbie stands for,” she explains. “Founded by a female entrepreneur and mother in 1959, the Barbie brand has always represented the fact that women have choices.”

“This ongoing initiative is designed to remind today's parents that through the power of imagination, Barbie allows girls to explore their limitless potential.”

After being criticised last year for presenting the Entrepreneur Barbie in the same tired model of a busty blonde with a tiny waist and blue eyes, Mattel has also been working on dolls with more diverse appearances.

Earlier this year, the Fashionista range saw Barbie remodelled in the form of 23 dolls each with different skin tones, hair colours, eye colours, heights and body shapes.

For the first time ever, she was also given moveable ankles that allow her to wear flat shoes and boots rather than heels, a breakthrough celebrated by British fashion designer Sophia Webster with a dedicated collection of Barbie flats.

 

Related

fridakahlo.png

Meet the artist transforming Bratz dolls into feminist icons

Period Party 5.jpg

The Lammily doll now comes with Period Party sanitary towels

Diverse Barbie Fashionista colelction.jpg

Barbie embraces diversity with 23 new dolls and Sophia Webster flats

hipster-barbie.jpg

Barbie account mocks the picture perfect lifestyle snaps of Instagram

barbie and ken dolls.jpg

Playing with Barbies encourages girls to be passive

lineup1.jpg

Barbie: the controversial fashion muse

rexfeatures_4448581n.jpg

Barbie is making a Zendaya doll

3 Dina Goldstein Breakfast.jpg

Photo series sees Ken stuck in loveless marriage as Barbie breaks down

Barbie 1.JPG

Barbie now has over one million fashion followers on Instagram

Comments

More

22 Christmas cocktail recipes to jingle your bells

Boozy mince pie freakshake, anyone?

by Amy Swales
09 Dec 2016

Revealed: the gender pay gap for every industry in the UK

How much less do you earn than your male colleagues?

by Sarah Biddlecombe
09 Dec 2016

Experts have revealed the ultimate hangover cure

There’s just one catch…

by Kayleigh Dray
09 Dec 2016

Gigi Hadid opens up about ‘empowering’ decision to quit social media

“The world feels so entitled to other peoples’ lives”

by Kayleigh Dray
09 Dec 2016

This is how Bake Off will change when it moves to Channel 4

From the horse (aka Paul Hollywood)’s mouth itself…

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016

Are you the youngest in your family? We have good news for you…

Experts have revealed the surprising trait that all little brothers and sisters share

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016

Meet the all-female anti-poaching team saving rhinos in South Africa

Jessica Chastain is set to produce a film about their story.

by Moya Crockett
08 Dec 2016

New-look Baywatch is all about chests, not breasts

But is it really any better... ?

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016

Cheers! You can now grow your own Prosecco at home

This could be dangerous...

by Moya Crockett
08 Dec 2016

Is Kim Cattrall already filming a Samantha SATC spin-off?

“Channelling Ms Samantha Jones once again…”

by Kayleigh Dray
08 Dec 2016