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Tech

Barbie’s New Body Is Helping Mattel in a Big Way

July 22, 2016

The iconic doll had a 23% rise in sales

Barbie has seen a 23% rise in sales during parent company Mattel’s second quarter, Wall Street Journal reports.

The sales increase comes after the company changed Barbie from an exclusively blond bombshell-style doll to one that represents a variety of races and body types. “The entire Mattel organization took on the challenge to reset this storied brand and have made tremendous strides in a very short period of time,” Mattel president Richard Dickson said in a conference call.

Mattel and Barbie battle with Hasbro, one of their main competitors, due to the popularity of Disney Princess dolls. In order to compete with the adoration of Elsa from Frozen, who overtook Barbie as the most popular girl’s toy, Mattel took one giant leap to make Barbie more appealing.

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The shift in body image for Barbie, the company’s biggest brand, helped propel Mattel to post a “second-quarter revenue of $957.3 million,” according to Bloomberg. Those numbers are slightly down compared to last year, but would have been much worse if not for Barbie’s resurgence. “The strength of the Barbie brand is its renewed positioning, the additional marketing and merchandising and execution that we’ve done to get that brand to be more culturally relevant,” Dickson said.

In January 2016, TIME reporter Eliana Dockterman received a behind-the-scenes look at the new Barbie before its release, which came in the wake of the dolls’ sales plummeting 20% from 2012-2014.

Before the redesign, Barbie’s critics were quick to point fingers at what they said was a negative body image the dolls promote. Dockterman explains, “Mattel has also long claimed that Barbie has no influence on girls’ body image, pointing to whisper-thin models and even moms as the source of the dissatisfaction that too many young girls feel about their bodies. A handful of studies, however, suggest that Barbie does have at least some influence on what girls see as the ideal body.”

Mattel has since tried to make Barbie more empowering. In addition to releasing a curvy, tall, and petite Barbie, Mattel recently paired up with organization She Should Run to help create a president Barbie. Erin Loos Cutaro, co-founder and CEO of She Should Run, wrote for Motto: “We believe that girls and boys everywhere should see that any woman being president isn’t such a strange idea. Representation, even with toys, can go a long way to changing how people think.”