Thursday, May 3, 2018

Now on Hulu: Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie (2018)

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie (2018) - Written and directed by Andrea Blaugrund Nevins

By Emily Haile

Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie is a Hulu documentary about the evolution of Barbie and how Mattel revamped her image in 2016.

Barbie debuted in 1959 and earned Mattel $500 million within the first 10 years. But as American culture evolves, Barbie has to adapt to the changes in society. The documentary follows Kim Culmone, the head of Barbie design, and her attempt to keep up with the times while still making a profit.

After years of attempts and failed focus groups, Project Dawn is finally set into motion. The new Barbie line debuts three new body types along with the current style: curvy, tall and petite. The documentary shows what a big undertaking it is to completely rebrand the pop culture icon.

"I think we have to show that this is our commitment to the next generation of girls," Michelle Chidoni of Barbie public relations said. "That this isn't a stunt. That this is the new day of Barbie."
The highlight of the documentary is when the Barbie employees gather at 3 a.m. ahead of Project Dawn's launch. Time magazine is scheduled to release a cover featuring Barbie, but nobody knows whether it will be in a positive or negative light. With all the adversity the Barbie brand faces in the media, you can feel the tension as each person refreshes Time's homepage in anticipation of the cover.

Redesigning Barbie changes everything about the brand, and the documentary gives insight into just how much went into Project Dawn. Everything had to be re-evaluated, from bicycles to door heights and new shoe sizes.

I think when people hear the word "Barbie," the iconic blonde-haired, blue-eyed image will always be the first thing to come to mind. But the documentary shows that Mattel isn't trying to exclude anyone. I felt like the higher-ups have wanted to expand on the image for years but never thought they could until now.

The only thing I didn't understand was the timing of the release. I think it would've been better suited in March after the dolls based on inspirational women were announced. I was expecting the role model line to be mentioned in passing or in a quick text update as the credits were rolling. So it feels a bit outdated since there was no mention of it. Other than that, I think it's a great, easy-to-watch doc when you're in between shows to binge.

Rating: ***

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