This photo provided by Mattel shows a group of new Barbie dolls introduced in January 2016. (Mattel via AP)
Barbie is getting a new look, again
February 01, 2016
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Barbie's got a brand new look.
Mattel, the maker of the iconic plastic doll, said it will begin selling Barbie with three new bodies - curvy, tall and petite. The doll will be available in seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles.
The El Segundo, California, toy company will also continue to sell the original Barbie. The new options come after years of criticism that Barbie had created unrealistic expectations for girls.
Time magazine, which first reported the changes, touched on the topic with the headline, "Now can we stop talking about my body?"
The doll has changed in some ways already. New skin tones and looks were added last year. And Barbie's foot was movable for the first time. That allowed her to kick her heels off and wear flats.
Mattel has been searching for ways to recharge sales of Barbie. Sales fell 4 percent in the most recent quarter as "want lists" from girls increasingly include iPads and other things.
The new body types were in the works for two years, said Mattel spokeswoman Michelle Chidoni.
Whether kids will pick up the new dolls remains to be seen. But Chidoni said previous changes were "positively received."
Mattel would not provide sales figures, but some marketing experts say more will have to be done to return Barbie to glory.
"The look of the dolls is great," said Marc Rosenberg. He is a marketing consultant in Chicago that has worked in the toy industry for 25 years. But in order to connect with kids, the new dolls need to be added to Barbie YouTube videos, apps and shows, said Rosenberg.
Dolls with the new body are available for preorder at shop.mattel.com. They will ship in February. They will start to show up on U.S. store shelves in March and roll out in the rest of the world after that, Mattel Inc. said.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is Mattel allowing Barbie to wear flats?
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