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Barbie’s Clothing Designer Defends Doll From Body Shamers

"Times are changing and we’re all evolving"

A Barbie doll is displayed during an exhibition dedicated to the Barbie doll at on March 7, 2019 in Soultz, France.
Chesnot / Contributor / Getty Images
 

The iconic doll Barbie will be 60 on Saturday, leaving behind a legacy that has often been saddled with controversy over the body image the doll promotes. Carol Spencer, who designed Barbie's outfits for over three decades, said those criticisms are unfair.

 

Speaking with People, Spencer said that Barbie's body design was never out of proportion and that her critics did not understand scale.

"Times are changing and we’re all evolving," said Spencer, who designed outfits for the doll from 1963 to 1998. "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."

The magazine noted that since Spencer retired, the Barbie doll has increasingly morphed over the past 20 years to include a variety of different shapes and sizes. The clothing designer told the outlet she appreciates the inclusiveness.

"The new Barbies are lovely," Spencer said. “We kept making Barbie more realistic.”

The doll Barbie has increasingly become a tool used to push social justice in recent years. This past December, Mattel even discussed making same-sex wedding sets for Barbie dolls. From The Daily Wire's Hank Berrien:

 

Two gay Arizona men who are planning to be married in May 2019 created a same-sex Barbie set with two Ken dolls as a birthday present for an eight-year-old niece who will be one of the flower girls. Then they urged Mattel, the toy company that makes Barbie dolls, to make a gay wedding set, prompting Mattel to agree to meet with them to discuss the possibility.

Matt Jacobi and Nick Caprio noticed that Mattel only creates wedding-style Barbie and Ken doll sets. That triggered them to purchase two Barbie wedding sets and switch the dolls so that the Ken dolls were in a single package

In 2017, Barbie officially endorsed same-sex marriage in an Instagram post that featured two photos of the iconic doll wearing a "Love Wins" T-shirt created by fashion designer Aimee Song.

The first photo featured Barbie posing beside another doll designed to look like Aimee Song. The second photo shows the same two dolls in the same shirts enjoying avocado toast.

“Such an inspiring initiative and fabulous few days I have spent with Aimee, she’s a doll,” reads the caption written from Barbie’s POV.

Song's "Love Wins" shirts were introduced for Pride Month; 50% of the proceeds were donated to The Trevor Project, which focuses on LGBTQ youth suicide prevention.

 

“So many of my friends (actually most of them) are a part of the LGBTQ community, and I know that life was not always easy for them,” Song wrote on her official website at the time. “It absolutely breaks my heart that some kids take their own lives because they can’t see that it will get better in the end, and I’m happy that The Trevor Project exists to help those who need it.”

Spencer elaborated to People on her new book, "Dressing Barbie," and how she was a force for change in 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 told People. "It was a quiet goal to start promoting women. I wanted more choices for Barbie. I wanted more choices for myself!"

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