The news in the toy world is that Barbie is getting a redesign. Instead of the traditional doll that has been around with only minor modifications since 1959, now there will be four body styles: original, petite, tall and curvy.
Barbie is one of the most recognizable brands in the world; according to Mattel, 9 of 10 people recognize Barbie. But will they, when her shape varies so much that clothes are no longer interchangeable, her skin color varies and she has so many different hair colors and styles that it is hard to keep track of them.
At what point is Barbie no longer Barbie?
A similar dilemma has faced many companies and organizations throughout the years. Car makers have created a whole line of different models to keep their distinctions clear. Oreos have extended their brand to include just about any flavor with frosting between two circular cookies, but other resemblance to the original Oreo is fleeting. Would they have been better off creating new brands of cookies or having the Rav4, Avalon, Camry and Corolla all just be called Toyotas?
Without debating whether or not the expansion of body models is a good thing or not, I believe that the iconic Barbie should remain only as the original. Others should be introduced with different names and personalities, not the taller/shorter/fatter version of the original.
If you make substantial changes, own them. Give your spinoff a different name and culture and let it stand on its own merit, rather than try to ride the coattails of the original.
— beth triplett
“Now can we stop talking about my body? What Barbie’s new shape says about American beauty” by Eliana Dockterman in Time, February 8, 2016, p. 44-51.