Coming to Hulu tomorrow, Friday, April 27:
TINY SHOULDERS: RETHINKING BARBIE
An exploration of the popular doll’s complicated relationship to body image and feminism.
Since her introduction in 1959, Barbie has been a magnet for controversy. Emerging in a marketplace that only included baby dolls, Barbie’s “adult” body – one with breasts – was a gamble for Mattel, but it paid off, eventually making the company part of the Fortune 500. While the grown-up role-playing that Barbie’s endless varieties of accessories and professions encouraged was in its own way progressive, the doll still came to represent all things negative about gender stereotypes, and, increasingly, was criticized for its unrealistic body shape and size. In recent years, facing declining sales and bad press, Mattel acknowledges it’s time for a change. Nevins’ well-crafted film follows the company’s careful efforts to finally better represent a diversity of body image as they develop and release a new generation of Barbie dolls, at the risk of further criticism and damage to their brand. As the filmmaker profiles several of the women behind the initiative, she skillfully weaves in Barbie’s evolution over time, and her impact on and response to changes in women’s place in society.