New Barbie Fashionistas Review: Original, Curvy, Tall & Petite

Hi, everyone! I’m so excited because I just received my new Barbie Fashionistas dolls. There’s already been a lot of talk about these dolls because of the three new body types which are a first from Mattel. But I wanted to see them in person and do my own comparison, so I could see the differences up close. Not to mention that there are some very cute dolls that I couldn’t resist adding to my collection!

This is going to be a very photo-heavy post to discuss all of the aspects of these new dolls. And there will be doll nudity, if that makes you uncomfortable.

Barbie's website announcement
Barbie’s website announcement

So about two weeks ago, Barbie started doing a countdown on their social media accounts to let people know that something new was coming. There wasn’t any information, just pictures with the numbers “5”, “4”, etc. until the day of the official announcement. Then on the morning of the release, the Barbie website changed to show several of the new dolls and share the hashtag for their campaign: #TheDollEvolves. Logging onto the site and seeing this lineup made me excited about Barbies for the first time in years! You can instantly see the range of diversity in this photo–and this isn’t even all of the new dolls.

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Scrolling down a little ways on the page, there’s a preview of upcoming dolls. I missed seeing all of these the first time because I was looking for all of the Fashionistas, but when I scrolled back, I was pretty interested, too. The Spy Squad, already out, are fun and colorful action dolls. There’s a new career doll called Game Developer who comes with a cute laptop and headset for the summer. I love her red hair, and someone made a comment that she looks like Felicia Day, which I can definitely see. Also available this summer, a President and Vice President Barbie. My first thought was that I need to get them both to be Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

Barbie promises that these will be “empowering and imaginative roles”, and I agree. Barbie has been expanding her range in what she can be and I think this offers a lot more creativity for kids to play with. I would have loved any of these dolls as a kid. I think even in the early 90s when I collected Barbie, I did have some range of options, because I had a soccer Barbie and a hiking Barbie along with my ballerina, but it’s nice to see these keep increasing.

Curvy dolls
Curvy dolls

On to the new doll shapes! The first one and perhaps the most innovative is the Curvy type. It’s so awesome that these Barbies are so fashionable, unlike some plus sized clothing lines that look very frumpy or unattractive. Not all of these dolls are available right away, as we’ll see, but I’m definitely looking forward to the future releases. And you can already see the range of hair colors, skin tones, and hairstyles that Barbie is offering with this line. Now it will be easier for kids to find dolls that look like themselves and the people they know.

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Tall dolls

Close to my own heart as a tall lady, I love these tall dolls. The short hair! The curls! The bright colors! Proportionally, Barbie already seems pretty tall, but there are taller ladies out there, and as we’ll see later, these have a realistic shape in some interesting ways.

Petite dolls
Petite dolls

At the other end of the spectrum, we have some short cuties. At first glance, these look similar to Barbie’s younger sister Skipper, but there’s actually a few differences. Mattel has given her a little bit more mature of a figure as well as facial features and adult-style clothes to make it more clear that this is a full grown woman. I don’t have any Skippers to compare her directly, but there are good comparison photos elsewhere online.

Original dolls pt. 1
Original dolls pt. 1

Now, one of the complaints that I’ve heard about the new styles is that they like original Barbie and don’t want her to change. I’d like to point out that original Barbie isn’t going away. In fact, you can see that there’s more of the original shape than any other, especially since other lines than Fashionista aren’t using the new shapes. You can’t get a curvy Game Developer Barbie, as far as I know, and there’s no curvy Spy Squad girl to act out my Melissa McCarthy fantasies. So there are plenty of options available for people who want original Barbies. That’s the thing about having options: you can still pick what you want. No one is forcing you to get a curvy doll if you don’t want one. But for those of us who have been waiting for years for any type of doll that doesn’t look like a cookie cutter, we finally have more options, too. So I think this is a great move on Mattel’s part and it can only mean good things for consumers. Who knows, maybe other doll companies will also start experimenting with other body types.

Original dolls pt. 2
Original dolls pt. 2

The second part of the original style Fashionistas show more of the range available.

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Mattel’s shopping site

Here’s where the excitement starts to wane a little. The good news: these new dolls are only $10 each, which makes it easy to buy a bunch of them, and Mattel also offers free shipping if you spend a certain amount of money. (It was $35 when I ordered, but now it says $29, and may continue to change.)

The bad news: not all of the dolls are available immediately, so if you fall in love with a particular one, you may be disappointed to find out you have to wait. Here it only says that some are “in stock” while others are up for “pre-sale” and others are just “coming soon”. No dates here, but we’ll find them out later.

I tried to choose four dolls, one of each size, that were immediately available so I could compare them right away. The original that I wanted the most is the lavender-haired one, but she’s “coming soon”, so I decided to order the Valentine’s day doll instead. I’m guessing that she’s the same size as the original type for Fashionista.

Valentine Beauty in the box
Valentine Beauty in the box

“Valentine Beauty” Barbie arrived first. She looks pretty standard with blonde hair, blue eyes, and tan skin. A surprise that I didn’t see on the site is that she comes with a child-sized ring. I would have preferred accessory for the doll but it’s cute.

Back of the box
Back of the box

The back of the box has a few lines to add names if the doll is being given as a gift for Valentine’s Day. My mom used to give me small gifts for holidays like this when I was a kid, even though my birthday is the day before Valentines and I already had all of my birthday presents. So seeing this made me a little nostalgic.

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After opening the box, Barbie slides out on a cardboard insert. There’s a minimal amount of plastic ties and rubber bands securing her in place, as well as a rubber band to hold her necklace. I’m glad that none of the plastic ties go through her clothes because these always leave small holes in the fabric. She’s easy to get out of the package with scissors, but I know from experience that I could rip her out with my bare hands with only a little more effort. (Note to self: put a small pair of scissors in my bag for spontaneous doll purchases in the future. I don’t like ripping them out but I never want to wait until I get home.)

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Out of the box now. She can’t really stand on her own, so I leaned her up against the backdrop. I also discovered that not only is she lacking much poseability in her arms and legs, but she also doesn’t have a tilt neck. That means she’s constantly looking up. I’m also disappointed that her red headband is only a rubber band. I would have traded the child’s ring for a plastic headband or a purse.

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Speaking of the ring, it’s definitely small but it’s slightly adjustable. I have thin fingers (ring size 5) so it just fits me. I don’t think I’ll be wearing this much, though.

Warning: naked doll pictures will follow.

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Taking the dress off, you can see Barbie’s original shape, the “belly button” body that’s been around since about 1999. It’s changed somewhat over the years and it looks a little more natural than the awkward triangle shapes she had when I was collecting dolls in the late 80s/early 90s, but it still doesn’t represent the majority of women. I won’t go into all of the critiques of this shape today because that’s not what this is about, I’m just sharing the picture so you can compare it to the other dolls to come.

2016 Fashionistas pamphlet
2016 Fashionistas pamphlet

The Fashionistas dolls come with this little catalog to showcase all of the new dolls. It’s mostly the same pictures and names you can see online. But there is a little bit of extra information about releases . . .

Fashionistas release dates
Fashionistas release dates

As you can see here, the first wave of dolls are listed as “March”. The Barbie newsletter says that the new dolls will be exclusively on their site until February 28, so March is the release date for stores. The second wave of dolls is listed as May (although I hope they’ll be online sooner) and the dolls that come with extra fashions are in June. On other pages, you can see that some of the doll releases will continue through the summer.

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The violet girl I wanted is listed as May. “Pretty in Python” is one of the dolls coming out in August.

With doll releases through the summer already announced, it will probably be a while before we hear about anything new–like the hoped-for articulated body types. So while I still have hope that we’ll get tall, petite, and curvy dolls with Made to Move articulation, I wouldn’t expect them before the fall or maybe the holiday season. We’ll have to wait and see.

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The back of the box also shows several of the Fashionistas dolls, but not the full line. A disappointing thing is that there are only three “Ken” dolls shown here, all with the same body type. Male dolls are less popular, I guess. It may be a while before we see a redesign of Ken or Made to Move articulation for him.

Petite doll: Blue Brocade
Petite doll: Blue Brocade

The first doll I opened is the petite. I chose the Blue Brocade because I love her dress. The Fashionistas box is simpler than the Valentine Beauty, with clear plastic on three sides, so you can see her from different angles.

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The plastic peels away easily from the cardboard to reveal the doll. You can see that she only has a few plastic ties to secure her in place, making her a few snips away from play. Her updo doesn’t need rubber bands hold it flat.

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Free of the box, she looks beautiful. Her curls are very securely put up with rubber bands and no gel–it feels very silky and soft. I’m tempted to take it down and see what it’s like, but I’ll leave it up for today.

Shoes
Shoes

Her booties have detailed buckles and studs. I’ll probably paint them to add a little more pop.

Dress
Dress

The pattern is printed onto her dress. It’s simple in construction, all one piece, attached with velcro in the back. There’s a little bit of ribbon for detail and the edges are finished with a contrasting thread to keep it from fraying.

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The printing on her face is clean and her lips are well-painted. You can see a little bit of purple highlights in her hair, which I love. I also like her unusual eye color. Her face sculpt is very sweet and seems a little shy to me, because she doesn’t show her teeth when she smiles.

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Each of these dolls seems to have only one accessory besides their shoes, and this one has earrings. The earrings are not removable. They’re not glued in place, so I could pull them out a tiny bit, but there seems to be a plastic tab inside that prevents them from coming all of the way out. I guess this is good for children because such a small piece could easily be lost, but since I already have another pair of Barbie earrings from the advent calendar with no pierced-ear doll to wear them, I’m a little disappointed that I can’t change her look.

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Out of the dress, you can see that she doesn’t have the normal Skipper body. I was also surprised by her curvy thighs. She has much less of a thigh gap. She has smaller breasts but still the defined hips and waist.

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Putting her next to the original Barbie highlights the differences. She’s not just shorter, there’s definitely a different shape overall to her body. Her knees are in the same place as the original so her legs are only shorter in the thighs.

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Close-up of their thighs.

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And from the back. I haven’t measured so I can’t say if they are different sizes in the hips and bottoms, but they are a different shape.

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The Tall doll I chose is the White & Pink Pizzazz. This outfit interests me the least of the four that I got (it looks a little picnicky to me), but I really like her face, so I decided to get her and redress her when I get the chance.

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Again, a minimum of plastic ties and rubber bands. The rubber holds her hair flat and another one holds her necklace. But overall, it’s very easy to take out of the package.

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Out of the box, she’s ready to tower over all the other dolls! Just kidding. Again, the hair is so soft and silky, and free from any gel or other hair products. I love touching it.

All of these dolls have hard plastic arms and legs that do not bend. This doll comes with one arm bent to put on her hip or hold a purse. With her platform shoes, she can almost stand by herself! She’s the most stable of the four dolls.

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Close-up of the platform shoes. Her feet are flat, and the platforms are made flat to accommodate that. When I put on the curvy doll’s heels, this made her tip forward, so she can’t really wear heels. I’ve heard online that she can wear 90s Barbie sneakers, though, so there are some other flat shoe options already available.

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This outfit is actually two pieces. The skirt is stretchy with an elastic waistband, and the top secures in the back with velcro. The skirt is thin, even though it’s two layers, and you can see her skin through it even though she’s pale. The top is hemmed, but the top mesh layer of the skirt has a raw edge. I hope this doesn’t come apart over time.

If you don’t pull the skirt up high enough, there can be a small gap showing her belly under the shirt which looks awkward. I can relate to these kinds of dressing problems. 😦 But since the outfit is designed for this doll, why didn’t they make the shirt a little longer? Again, not my favorite of the Tall doll outfits.

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My doll’s face is clean except there is a small blemish under her right eye, which doesn’t show well in this unfortunately blurry picture. It almost looks like an intentional beauty mark but I haven’t seen it in any of the promotional pictures. I think it’s cute and gives her personality, so mine is unique.

It

Shoe comparison
Shoe comparison

It’s hard to tell because these shoes are two very different styles, but they’re actually two different sizes. Petite dolls can share shoes with original Barbie, but curvy and tall dolls have larger feet. Some people have complained that this is confusing. Well, it will be harder to keep track of the different shoes. But real people don’t all have shoes the same size, either.

The shoes are marked on the bottom to tell which type they are. Petite/original shoes are marked with a “B”. Tall/curvy shoes have a silhouette of Barbie with a high ponytail.

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Although Valentine Beauty Barbie isn’t a Fashionista, I did find the “B” logo on the bottom of her shoes to mark the size, so these were made with a newer mold. None of my older shoes have this size. The most recent Barbie I purchased was the 2015 Holiday Barbie, so these molds weren’t in use last year.

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The tiny marks are difficult to make out in photographs, but you can see them more clearly in person.

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Back to the Tall doll, here she is without her clothes. I’ve heard several people comment that her long torso looks weird. Well, it’s different from original Barbie, but it’s actually normal for a tall woman. My torso looks similar to this one. It makes it hard to wear certain styles of clothing, like overalls or empire-waisted dresses, unless it’s specifically designed in a tall size. The weird thing about me is that my legs are actually average length and only my torso is long to make me tall. That means I can either buy normal sized women’s clothes and they won’t reach my waist, or I can buy tall sizes but have to hem the pant legs to keep them from dragging. 😦 This doll has tall proportions all around so she would have an easier time finding clothes.

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Her flat feet make her very stable. With some careful balancing, this doll might actually be able to stand on her own.

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Original and Tall side-by-side. The original’s legs are actually fairly long, so you can see that Tall’s legs aren’t much longer, and most of the extra height comes from the longer torso. There’s about half a head of height difference.

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Petite and Tall side-by-side is a very dramatic difference.

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I laid the two dolls down side-by-side to give a better view of their torsos directly next to each other.

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Original and Tall laying side by side.

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How about some comparisons with their clothes back on? Here’s Original and Petite.

The interesting thing about this Petite is her hair is piled on her head to give her a little extra height. Maybe she’s a little self-conscious about being so short.

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Original and Tall. You can see that although they both have the same open-mouthed smile, Original’s is a little sloppy but Tall’s is very cleanly painted. The Fashionista dolls also have tilt necks, so they can pose a little more naturally than the Valentine Beauty, who keeps staring at my ceiling.

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Tall and Petite. Tall is a full head taller than Petite, except for that extra-high hair.

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Here is one consequence of having different-length torsos: they aren’t all the same height when they sit down. Petite catches up a little when she’s sitting, but Tall is still taller than her and Original. Again, this is realistic: not everyone is the same height when sitting down.

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Finally, here is the Curvy doll, Sweetheart Stripes. Her blue hair jumped out at me from the first picture that I saw of the new dolls, so I knew I had to get her. I didn’t realize it from photos but there’s actually black mixed in with the blue. I haven’t seen a black-haired Barbie with such fair skin except for Snow White dolls. And of course, her outfit is adorable. I would probably wear it if it came in my size.

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Unboxing is the same as the other dolls. Here you can see the black more easily in her hair. There’s also a rubber band attached to her head that holds her sunglasses in place. I chose not to cut it, because it stretches enough to allow the sunglasses to be pushed up on top of her head. I know glasses don’t stay on dolls easily so I wanted the extra holding strength of the rubber band.

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Here she is out of the box. This doll has so much personality with her purple shades and blue-black hair. She would fit right in with my group of friends.

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Her shoes are the same size as the Tall doll. However, since she has arched feet and the Tall doll has flat feet, they looked awkward in each other’s shoes.

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This outfit is in two pieces, but this top is long enough to fit over the Curvy doll’s midriff better. Both fasten in the back with velcro. There’s contrast stitching in hot pink on both pieces, and they printed fake stitches over the middle design to match. There’s a pink ribbon detail. Most of the outfit is hemmed, except for the mesh on top, which has finished edges to keep it from fraying. This is the most detailed of the three Fashionista outfits I got, similar to the special Valentine’s dress. It’s very cute and trendy.

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You can see her eyes through the sunglasses. Also, her smile is painted on nice and clean.

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Surprisingly, the Curvy doll is a little shorter than the Original. That means there are four different heights as well as body shapes.

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All four dolls together. All dressed up, they look like they’re ready to go somewhere fun. Maybe a night on the town?

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Curvy without her clothes and with her shades pushed up. Look at those thick eyebrows! I love it. They’re medium brown, hinting at her “natural” hair color underneath the dye. You can see her curvy figure here. Almost no thigh gap.

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Original and Curvy side by side. You can tell that her feet are also wider than Original’s. Her shorter height is from the shorter torso, and their legs are about the same length.

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Foot comparison. From left to right they’re Original, Curvy (underneath Tall), and Petite. You can see that Curvy has a less dramatic arch than Original/Petite, and of course Tall has flat feet.

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Here’s all four dolls lined up close together to show the different body shapes. It’s pretty dramatic to see all of the changes. It seems like Mattel put a lot of work and thought into this, instead of just stretching or shortening the legs to give different heights.

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The dolls standing together without their clothes. I think that perhaps you can’t see their relative heights perfectly, because I couldn’t get them to balance at the exact same angle. But hopefully it’s still helpful to see them together.

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As a final shot, here are the ladies showing off their beautiful behinds. I love how unique each one of these dolls is. I know if I picked a Barbie doll up randomly now, I would instantly know what shape she is, I wouldn’t have to guess.

And that brings us to the end of my pictures for today! I still want to explore some more things about these dolls. I plan on doing measurements of their features and also seeing what can work for swapping clothes. But that will have to wait for another day.

A final note: because these dolls are new and there aren’t a lot of clothes available for the new sizes yet, I plan on making clothes for them and creating patterns. I know that some simple Barbie clothes patterns out there already would probably be easy to adjust, but I want to create patterns for more specific clothing items. So watch for more news about this soon. That way, these dolls can have a complete wardrobe!

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