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Editorial: Reality triumphs in Barbie's new look

Mattel is introducing three new Barbies tall, curvy and petite. (Mattel via AP)

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Generations of women heaved a sigh of relief Thursday after learning that reality has finally caught up with Barbie.

Mattel Inc. revealed it will be selling Barbie dolls in three new body sizes – curvy, petite and tall – and in a choice of seven skin tones, 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles.

Starting Jan. 28, they will be sold along with the original, impossibly-proportioned Barbie, which debuted 57 years ago.

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If she could magically become human, the most popular toy in history supposedly would equate to a 5-foot 9, 110-pound woman with a 16-inch waist, a full yet perky bust and long, lean legs.

Few kids growing up with a Barbie in hand could have had a relative who looked anything close to Barbie. That’s because the average American woman is just under 5-foot 4 and weighs about 166 pounds, according to rehabs.com, an addiction treatment website that has blamed Barbie for “an epidemic of body hatred.”

Even scientists have found that Barbie’s unrealistic figure has taken an emotional toll on its young audiences. A 2006 British study found that “girls exposed to Barbie reported lower body esteem and greater desire for a thinner body shape” than girls not given dolls.

So Chela S, mother of two, spoke for masses of women Thursday when she tweeted: “So excited about the #newbarbie. Thanks @Mattel for creating barbies that are more representative of real women.”

However, let’s be frank. Sales have been slipping. In October, Barbie sales experienced their fourth straight quarter of double-digit drops. No doubt Mattel hopes this new crop of more-relateable Barbies will reverse that trend.

We don’t know about that. But we look forward to seeing whether the more realistic Barbies trump fantasy Barbie. Here’s hoping.

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