How Barbie Lost Her Cool

This article is from the archive of our partner .

America's iconic (if unrealistically-proportioned) doll is no longer the most popular one in the toy store. Barbie's sales dropped 12% last quarter — the fourth quarter in a row the Mattel-manufactured doll posted disappointing sales. 

Explains Julie Ma in a post today at New York magazine's The Cut:

Sales of the brand's iconic Barbie doll, the one-time Queen Bee of the girl-toy market, have fallen for the fourth quarter in a row, and analysts believe that Mattel's other toys, like American Girl and Monster High dolls — edgy, part-human, part-monster teen anti-Barbies — have contributed to the great Barbie decline, simply by being more attractive to toy buyers.

Barbie's long been criticized for the physically impossible standard of beauty she sets. Time suggests that parents are finally looking for alternative, more realistic-looking dolls to give their girls, but that doesn't make much sense, since the alternatives have been there all along. Girls are just choosing different, equally unrealistic-looking dolls now, like Bratz dolls and Monster High dolls. In one gleeful post about Barbie's demise, The Guardian mocked her supposedly "over-aerobicised ass."

Recommended Reading

Mattel has touted its Monster High dolls as a "healthy alternative" to Barbie, but, in truth, their proportions are pretty much the same. Monster High dolls just have, for whatever reason, bigger heads. They also have cute, monster-like qualities, like cat ears. Mattel's vice president of marketing, Cathy Cline has this to say about the new, very popular brand of dolls:

The message about the brand is really to celebrate your own freaky flaws, especially as bullying has become such a hot topic.

Girls typically don't get bullied in school for having cat ears, but okay. Monster High dolls tap into the Twilight craze — the dolls have cool superpowers while remaining conventionally attractive.

Bratz dolls, manufactured by Mattel's rival MGA, are also hugely popular. They look like the girls in modern music videos — way cooler than "Princess Popstar Barbie." Bratz dolls, like their name suggests, have pouty faces and more attitude than Barbie. And they're still conventionally attractive. They do no more to enforce positive body image than the much-maligned Barbie. 

So, in short, no, girls haven't thrown Barbie away because of her abnormally large cup size. She just isn't that cool anymore. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.