Barbie: First Step Down Syndrome, Second Step Average Female Body Type
In doll news this week, Mattel has just announced that it’s launching a new Down syndrome version of Barbie in an effort to be more inclusive now that Down syndrome exists.
I’m pleased to see the Barbie market branching out into new territory; when I was growing up, the only kind of Barbie with any sort of special needs or unique traits you could find was a Barbie with brown eyes.
I think I once had a Barbie with bangs, too, if that counts.
If you were a child in the ’90s and ever, for whatever reason, wanted to find a doll that deviated from the classically beautiful, unattainably proportioned Barbie, you had to venture into off-brand territory.
But that usually never worked out. And I know that because of Tammy.
Less like your hot babysitter, more like your mom’s friend from book club
In the thick of my Barbie years, my mom gifted me a new doll that her creators named “Tammy.”
Tammy was like a knockoff Barbie, but her whole selling point was that she had a more conventional appearance.
Where Barbie was tall, skinny, and smooth, Tammy was average, a little curvy, and bore truer-to-life features.
She had wide hips that look like they had birthed a baby or two in their day, flat feet made for sensible footwear like Tevas (or Danskos if it was a special occasion), and a face that indicated “very possibly a Sunday school teacher.”
Tammy even had nipples, for some reason.
My mom, a devout Barbie hater, was pleased to find a doll that would give my impressionable young mind a more accurate depiction of what a female body was supposed to look like rather than this clique of “unattainable beauty” I played with every day after school.
But I was in too deep
Unfortunately, my mom was way too late in her feminist push to make me accept a woman’s body for what it was. I had already set the bar with Barbie, and at that point I simply didn’t have the tolerance for someone…