LIFESTYLE
27/10/2015 10:34 GMT | Updated 29/01/2016 14:59 GMT

Feminist Barbie Advert Tells Girls They Can Be Anything They Want To Be, Receives Mixed Response

Barbie has, over the years, taken a lot of flack for her non-feminist ways.

She's the doll with unrealistic bodily proportions, an obsession for pink (hello gender stereotypes) and a passion for pretty clothes, accessories and that dude with the blonde hair.

But then there was a shift. Barbie starred in a book 'I Can Be a Computer Engineer'. People rejoiced. But then said book managed to suggest that Barbie couldn't code and she'd need help from boys to turn her idea into reality. Doh.

Now, in a new advert from Mattel, Barbie's message appears to be finally changing for the better.

The heartwarming advert shows young girls in everyday 'adult' situations. One girl walks into a room full of students and begins to give them a biology lecture, while they sit looking bemused.

Another is in a veterinary clinic tending to sick animals, and another is coaching a male sports team telling them to "keep their knees high, like unicorns".

At the end of the advert, the focus is back on the little girl who was lecturing the college students. She's sat in her room pretending that her Barbie is teaching a class of other Barbie dolls.

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The advert, called 'Imagine The Possibilities', ends with a poignant message: "When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become."

It's a charming message to be sure, and a huge step in the right direction for Barbie, but there are some who are not entirely won over by it.

In a column for The Guardian, Jessica Valenti writes: "Barbie has been an aerobics instructor, an astronaut, a rockstar and a doctor. Next up: feminist Barbie? Don’t hold your breath."

"When a girl plays with Barbie, she imagines everything she can become," says Jessica Valenti. "Except fat, of course. Or not white. Or anything other than the still very standard, horrifyingly-proportioned Barbie."

Dr Christina Julios echoed these views. She wrote on Twitter: "Mattel tries to reinvent unrealistic Barbie as a feminist... Nice video. Aspirational message. Wrong product #anorexia."

Meanwhile feminist site The F Word tweeted: "As long as girls think they need a 19-inch waist to attain their goals, Barbies remain limiting, not empowering."

It would appear that Barbie is a little behind the times when it comes to body image - and this is a very real concern for feminists and parents alike.

In the wider world of toys, Lammily doll has been designed with realistic body proportions for her age - she even comes with extension packs that teach little girls about periods.

Meanwhile in Nigeria, a 'Queen of Africa' doll has grown in popularity, according to the Independent. The reason, its creator believes, is because little girls are more taken by a doll if it looks like them.

But despite the negativity towards Barbie's body, there are those who believe the new advert is a good move from the toy manufacturer.

Eliel Cruz tweeted: "This is amazing! You can tell @Barbie is listening to feminist critiques. Bravo."

While Shelley Styles added: "Yes, imagination and dreams are limitless! Heading in the right direction @Barbie #equality #feminist #commonsense"

What do you think of the new Barbie advert? Let us know in the comment below.

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