Probably the world’s most famous fashion doll, Barbie, turned 60 this weekend. The legendary doll has been slammed by feminists and others in recent decades because critics say it gives young girls an unrealistic body image, but Barbie clothing designer Carol Spencer is pushing back against those attacks.
Between, 1963 and 1998, Spencer designed thousands of Barbie outfits. She told People recently that the doll’s critics simply don’t understand.
Critics Don’t Get It
If you've ever had a Barbie doll, chances are that #Barbie was dressed in one of the literally 1000's of designs created by Carol Spencer. #DressingBarbie A celebration of the clothes that made our favorite doll an icon and the incredible woman behind them.#Barbie60 pic.twitter.com/DjQHdJi9pr
— Harper360 (@Harper360UK) March 7, 2019
Spencer told People:
“Times are changing and we’re all evolving, but I don’t think she was out of proportion — people don’t understand doll scale. And she’s a doll! Part of Barbie will always be fantasy.”
Barbie’s body size and shape have changed over the last two decades, and Spencer says she welcomes the makers being more inclusive with the product.
“The new Barbies are lovely,” Spencer said. “We kept making Barbie more realistic.”
In 2016, Barbie creators announced a new line of dolls using the hashtag #TheDollEvolves.
“The dolls have one of three ‘real woman’ figures — curvy, tall and petite,” Boston’s NPR station, WBUR reported three years ago. “The new bodies are outfitted with various skin tones, hair colors and hair textures, so that when kids peruse the Barbie aisle, they will see dolls resembling the real people in their lives.”
“This is Mattel’s latest attempt to increase their bottom line, to win back the fandom of families, and to give Barbie more realistic features and proportions,” WBUR noted at the time. “Of course, the standard white, thin, blonde and busty Barbie will still exist, but now kids (and parents) have a more diverse set of options when choosing which doll to take home.”
Spencer has a new book titled “Dressing Barbie” and believes the doll was positive for the women’s movement. “During the women’s movement (all of us designers) belonged to the National Organization for Women, but we didn’t flaunt it,” Spencer said. “It was a quiet goal to start promoting women.”
“I wanted more choices for Barbie. I wanted more choices for myself!” she said.
Happy Birthday, Barbie! Thank you for showing women they could be anything from an astronaut to a mother!