In Kate Claxton’s household, you’ll find an army of Barbie dolls with different body types – one has vitiligo, another has a prosthetic leg, and there are a couple of dolls with fuller figures, too.
But one Barbie that Claxton, 35, couldn’t seem to find on toy shop shelves was a doll with stretch marks.
“My three-year-old old daughter is really into her dolls at the moment and I try hard to give her a diverse and body-inclusive mix of Barbies,” says the mum and author.
“I’m open with her about my own tiger stripes and so took matters into my own hands, giving Vet Barbie some stripes of her own.”
All it took was some nail varnish and a steady hand.
Claxton is the author of My Mum’s A Tiger, which she wrote as a gift for her daughter’s first birthday. The book – as you can probably guess by the name – is all about body positivity, and focuses on a little girl who learns why her mum has stripes on her skin.
Discussing why she wrote the book, Claxton tells HuffPost UK: “I don’t want her to grow up wasting as much time and worry on how her body looks as I did.
“I saw absolutely no representation of stretch marks growing up – body inclusivity wasn’t a thing and growing up around diet culture, airbrushing and nasty magazines 100% had a detrimental effect on my body image and confidence, as I’m sure it did for most people.
“Social media can be a tricky thing, but being surrounded by so many unedited posts and a new generation of parents putting in the work to break the body conscious cycle, I feel really proud of what our generation is doing.”
When she shared a video of her stretch mark-adorned Barbie on social media, it really struck a chord with her followers.
“Lots of people have asked what I used to draw the marks, so hopefully there will be a revolution of striped Barbies and parents taking that representation into their own hands,” she says.
“I used nail varnish, though hopefully Barbie will bring out their own version with something a little more permanent!”
HuffPost UK has contacted Mattel to see whether this is being considered.
And did her daughter like her doll’s new stripes? “I dressed the doll again before giving it to my daughter and although she did undress her, she didn’t comment on her skin,” says Claxton.
Instead, her daughter simply remarked: “Wow, she’s a doctor! She has a telescope [referring to the stethoscope].”
“I’m really proud that our conversations and my book are doing their job in normalising stretch marks, and that she was more interested in the cool outfit and stethoscope,” says the mum, who lives with her husband and daughter in Swindon. “There’s hope yet!”
As for Claxton, she’s looking forward to the hotly-anticipated new Barbie film, which is out in the UK on July 21.
“I have a whole date planned out with a friend, we’re even going for a Barbie afternoon tea where the food is served in a Barbie wardrobe,” she says.
“I love pink and tacky, secretly. I think the film looks quite tongue-in-cheek and am a fan of Greta Gerwig’s films, so I think it will be a fun and uplifting take on Barbie and all her ridiculous perfection.”