US & Canada

Barbie available in 'curvy, tall and petite' sizes

Media captionMakers say the change is to reflect the world that girls see around them

Barbie, the iconic plastic toy doll model, is getting three new body types this year.

The US company behind the famous toy, Mattel, is adding "tall, curvy and petite" body shapes to its line-up of the fashion dolls.

Several skin tones, eye colours and hair styles will also be added to the collection, the company said.

Barbie's figure has come under fire for years, with critics arguing it set an unrealistic body image for girls.

With the new body shapes, the toy makers say they are "offering girls choices that are more reflective of the world they see today".

Last year, the company introduced 23 new dolls to its so-called Fashionistas line with varied skin and hair colours, and a much touted flat foot - replacing Barbie's signature heels.

Image copyright Mattel

With this year's update, the Barbie Fashionistas line will feature:

  • 33 new dolls
  • 30 hair colours
  • 24 hairstyles
  • 22 eye colours
  • 14 face shapes
  • 7 skin tones
  • 4 body shapes - original, plus tall, curvy and petite
Media captionWill new Barbie models entice millennial mums?

"We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand - these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them - the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them," Mattel executive Evelyn Mazzocco said in a statement.

Some took to Twitter to hail the move:

Image copyright Twitter

Image copyright Twitter

Others questioned light-heartedly when the same would happen for Ken, the fictional toy boyfriend of Barbie.

Image copyright Twitter

Image copyright Twitter

The new dolls will go on sale in the spring of 2016 worldwide.

However, true to life, Mattel warned that "not all clothes will fit all dolls".

Barbie Millicent Roberts is a woman with a very controversial reputation and mostly it stems from her long legs, tiny waist, ample bosom, slender neck and flowing blonde locks.

Some argue her body shape would be unobtainable and unsustainable if scaled up to life-size. They claim she would not be able to stand up because her body frame would be so unbalanced. A real life Barbie would simply fall over.

Read more from BBC Magazine (March 2009)

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