TIME Body Image

Bye, Bye, Barbie: 2015 Is the Year We Abandon Unrealistic Beauty Ideals

Cali Girl Barbie waves from the front seat of a Chevy SSR du
Cali Girl Barbie waves from the front seat of a Chevy Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

As Barbie sales figures continue to drop, unrealistic ideals are losing clout both in the toy and fashion world

It may be time for Mattel to roll out Retirement Barbie. Friday morning, the toy-maker announced that the doll’s sales dropped 16% in 2014, marking Barbie’s third consecutive year of falling earnings.

“The reality is, we just didn’t sell enough Barbie dolls,” CEO Bryan Stockton explained to investors last January, following Mattel’s disappointing 13% drop for 2013. The decline of the company’s premier product lead in part to Stockton’s resignation on Monday. But a corporate shakeup might not be enough to counteract the almost 56-year-old doll’s waning allure. The problem might not be sales strategies, but rather the doll and the impossibly slim body ideals she represents.

The push for more realistic, “body positive” images of girls has been gaining momentum over the least year and not just in toys. In 2014, Barbie sales plummeted, while a doll with an average woman’s proportions gained viral success; full-bodied models were integrated into high fashion campaigns without fanfare; e-retailer ModCloth announced an anticipated doubling of its sales after introducing plus sizes; the single All About That Bass which celebrates curvy bodies became such a commercial success that, no, you will never get it out of your head; and Kim Kardashian’s famously ample butt broke the internet.

After decades of false starts, maybe we are finally ready to move away from unattainably slim ideals.

Fashion: Plus Size Integration Isn’t a Passing Trend

When we think of lingerie ads, winged Victoria’s Secret Angels flutter through our minds. But in November, alone, three high fashion institutions displayed a fuller understanidng of feminine beauty.

Seductively posed in a rubber leotard, Candice Huffine debuted as the first plus-size model to be featured in Pirella’s prestigious calendar in December:

A Vogue online gallery featured sexy lingerie starred women with F rather than B cup sizes. “Going into this, we assumed that the beautiful, delicate, lacy bras that we all prefer would only be available in the smaller cup sizes, but we were thrilled to find a real wealth of options for a huge variety of body shapes,” editor Jorden Bickham tells TIME in an email.

And Calvin Klein used Myla Dalbesio in its “Perfectly Fit” underwear campaign. Dalbesio, a size 10, told Elle, “It’s not like [Calvin Klein] released this campaign and were like ‘Whoa, look, there’s this plus-size girl in our campaign.’ They released me in this campaign with everyone else; there’s no distinction. It’s not a separate section for plus-size girls.” (This interview incited misappropriated backlash against CK when the Twitterverse thought Dalbesio was incorrectly cast under the “plus size” category — she wasn’t).

While the internet reacted to the seamless integration of fuller bodied models into these campaigns, the models were presented by designers without fanfare.

“There were no big tamborines, no big calling out of the size thing,” Emme, widely regarded as the first plus-size supermodel (even though she eschews the moniker), tells TIME. “It’s just so old. Saying ‘Oh she’s plus size, yippee!’ and making a big deal of that.”

Tess Holliday

Although there was certainly fanfare when size 22 model Tess Holliday was signed to MiLK Model Management last week — making her the first model of her size to ever be represented by a major agency.

“It was unheard of, I never even tried to get with an agency,” Holliday, 29, tells TIME. “One of my friends even said, ‘Isn’t it crazy that you’re in the news for being the biggest plus size model when you’re the true size of a plus size woman.'” Holliday says that the average plus size model is between size 8 and 10, even though the average plus size woman is bigger. “There has always been an issue with [designers] using smaller plus size models and if they wanted one who was a little bit bigger or curvier, they would pad her because they said they couldn’t find good quality models above a size 16.”

In the past, Holliday was barred from castings due to her size. But in the past week, Holliday says at least designers who refused to work with her in the past have now called to book her for a job. “If they want me then they’ll pay for it.”

Many of Holliday’s critics complain that she sets an unhealthy example for women, but the model notes that she is active, has a trainer, and works out at least four times a week. It should also be noted that just as skinniness does not connote healthiness, being a plus size doesn’t connote unhealthiness.

While Holliday is currently an anomaly, Muse Model Management president Conor Kennedy tells TIME that the fashion industry opening its doors to a variety of body sizes is a consistent movement rather than a “flavor in the moment” passing trend.

Vogue

“A few years ago there was a little burst where there was an Italian Vogue cover”—in which plus-size models seductively posed over… spaghetti—”and then V Magazine did a shoot, and then it tailored off,” he says. “The past two years it’s very different because there are all types of editorials. I think that the next breakthrough we are looking for are campaigns, and we’re starting to see it now.” Curvier celeb cover subjects like Kim Kardashian and Jennifer Lopez are also changing perceptions in the fashion industry.

Kennedy has noticed increased excitement on the creative side of the industry over a diversity of sizes as a desirable aesthetic choice and greater openness in castings.

“But there’s an evolution on both sides of the spectrum,” he says. “It’s also a great thing for business.”

Retailers Finally Recognize an Untapped Market

Clothing makers are finally beginning to understand that if they increase their offerings — and we’re talking fashionable offerings rather than an increased muumuu selection — in the “plus size” category, it will be beneficial to their bottom line. With the “average” American woman wearing a size 14, that’s potentially 100 million potential customers.

“It’s a huge market and it’s totally underserved” ModCloth co-founder Susan Gregg Koder told CNBC.

When Koder decided to expand the e-retailer’s plus size division, she reached out to 1,500 vendors for help — and only 35 responded. But a year into the expansion, with 100 vendors on board, Koder told Business Insider that she expected sales to double in 2014.

According to the market research firm NPD Group, plus-size clothing sales increased 5% last year to $17.5 billion. E-retailers are taking advantage of this rise. In December, plus size fashion e-retailer ELOQUII raised $6 million in Series A funding. But brick and mortar retailers still have room for improvement.

But the quality must improve as well because, at the moment, full bodied women are searching for — but often not finding — fashionable outfits that go up to their size. Stylist Sal Perez explained the difficulties in trying to dress Rebel Wilson for her role in Pitch Perfect 2 to the New York Times.

“I am horrified by some of the clothes I find in the stores,” she said. “I don’t know anyone who enjoys wearing polyester.”

Target premiers its plus-size line

After interacting with six different designers who wouldn’t dress her for the Oscars, Melissa McCarthy decided to launch a fashion label of her own that will offer both plus and “regular” size clothing.

Larger retailers are finally getting the message as well. In mid-February, Target will launch a plus-size line called Ava & Viv that is designed specifically for “the plus-size woman who loves fashion.”

“Women want to go shopping together,” Emme says. “If you eliminate the plus size department that’s always in the basement or next to maternity, and you increase the numbers of 14, 16 and 18’s, you are going to make more money than you have ever made.”

To illustrate her point, Emme recalls a plus-size fashion show she attended with her daughter at Macy’s. At the end of the show, the 13-year-old asked if Emme thought a particular dress came in her size — she didn’t see it as undesirable for a larger demographic, but as beautiful clothing displayed on a beautiful model who she would like to replicate.

“A lightbulb went off,” Emme says. “I don’t think the younger generation sees it as size. They see beauty as it is.”

The End of Barbie

New trends in toy sales serve as fiscal evidence that children also want natural, realistic beauty — rather than unattainable ideals. Barbie, who has seen her share of criticism for being an anatomically impossible mutant, is losing her clout among girls–and their parents. As people stopped buying Barbies, they crowd-funded an alternative to the tune of $500,000.

Touted as the “normal Barbie,” Lammily dolls are built to the measurements of an average woman, based on CDC data.

The “normal” Barbie, created by Nickolay Lamm, Lammily

“This is the doll people have been waiting for,” Lamm told TIME when he prepared to ship tens of thousands of dolls to eager backers before the holidays.

“She looks like a regular girl going to school,” a second grader said when she was presented with a Lammily doll.

“She’s not like other dolls,” said another. “She looks real.”

One of the reasons that Lamm was able turn the Lammily doll from a concept to an actual product was because his original sketches of the “normal Barbie” — meant to simply be an art project — went viral. Its traction online indicated to Lamm how thirsty people were to celebrate the beauty of reality.

While #thinspiration and unhealthy body ideals that promote eating disorders or worse certainly exist on social networks, an easily outraged Twitterverse is quick to call companies out for promoting body negative ideology.

People will no longer stand for Victoria’s Secret creating an advertisement that puts the wording “Perfect Body” over a slew of skinny skinny models. The company quietly changed its ads after an onslaught of social media outrage. And, some 20,000 people will sign Charge.org petitions when they find out that Old Navy charges more money for items that come in plus sizes. (The retailer didn’t fully capitulate, but it did change plus size policies.)

Holliday, who started a viral #EffYourBeautyStandards online campaign, attributes her recent signing and burgeoning career to her dedicated social media following. “People aren’t used to seeing someone who is fat and happy,” she says, which could be why her 415,000 Instagram followers so eagerly await her posts.

“It’s not a trend, really — it’s happening,” Emme says. “It’s the tipping point.”

TIME Super Bowl

McDonald’s Will Start Accepting ‘Lovin’ As Payment For Fries

According to the company's very cheesy Super Bowl ad

Last year, McDonald’s started letting customers buy meals using Apple Pay on their iPhones. But the fast food chain will start accepting a far stranger currency to pay for fries: ‘Lovin’.’

McDonald’s 2015 Super Bowl ad says that between Feb. 2 and 14, randomly selected customers will be offered the chance to do things like call their mom to say “I love you,” give someone a hug, or do a silly dance as a form of payment.

This is a part of McDonald’s revamped “I’m Lovin’ It” campaign. (The last ad in the series implied that a trip to a Play Place could help unclog bipartisan gridlock.)

TIME Bizarre

How 7 Seconds Cost a Man $21 Million

Getty Images

Joel Ifergan's winning lottery ticket printed out seconds too late

A Québécois man missed out on winning a lottery jackpot worth $21.4 million (27 million Canadian dollars) because his winning ticket printed out seven seconds too late.

A Canadian court dismissed Joel Ifergan’s appeal Thursday after the almost-but-not-quite-winner said that he should still be eligible to win half the prize money.

Ifergan bought two Super 7 lottery tickets at 8:59 p.m. for the May 23, 2008 jackpot. But while one ticket was eligible for the 23rd, the second was printed out after the clock struck nine, and only counted for the May 30 jackpot. And as fate would have it, the ticket marked for the 30th had the winning numbers for the 23rd.

Ifergan blames Loto-Quebec’s ten second processing delay.

After spending years and at least $80,000 on the case, Ifergan tells CTV, “Yes, it cost me a lot of money, but it also consumed me for seven years.”

[CTV]

TIME Advertising

Steve Buscemi Plays A Very Compelling Jan Brady in Snickers Super Bowl Ad

"Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!"

Tom isn’t the only Brady making an appearance in Super Bowl 2015.

Snickers’ big game ad inserts the company’s “you’re not you when you’re hungry” trope into its most inspired scenario yet: The Brady Bunch.

Machete star Danny Trejo plays Marcia in ad agency BBDO’s reinterpretation of the show’s iconic “Marcia gets hit in the face with a football” scene. (Note: No footballs were deflated in the making of this ad.)

But the true standout is Steve Buscemi, who brings his trademark nuance and complexity to the role of Jan Brady.

We hope that Buscemi is available for Snickers’ Super Bowl sequel: An ode to George Glass.

TIME celebrity

Kim and Kanye Working on Difficult Second Child

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - November 06, 2014
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian arrive to Soho House New York James Devaney—GC Images

The celebrity tells People she and Kanye West are "trying for another kid"

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have unveiled their winter project — a younger sibling for baby North.

“We’ve really been trying for another kid,” Kardashian, 34, told People. More kids can’t come soon enough.”

The newlyweds had their first child, North, nineteen months ago.

This has been a busy 12 months for Kardashian. Not only did she break the internet, but Kardashian also got married, launched a mega-successful smartphone game, wrote a book (about selfies), and starred in a Super Bowl ad (also about selfies.)

Read more at People.

TIME Advertising

This Super Bowl Ad Purposely Wants to Put You to Sleep

Squarespace recruited Jeff Bridges to lull viewers into an REM cycle

The stereotypical Super Bowl commercial involves car chases, celebrities, Victoria’s Secret models, puppies and other tropes that keeps the eyes of viewers eagerly on their screens.

Squarespace, on the other hand, wants its Super Bowl ad to put people to sleep. And it has enlisted Jeff Bridges to help.

The actor launched an album called “Jeff Bridges Sleeping Tapes” Wednesday that aims to lull listeners into a REM cycle using guided meditations, relaxing sounds and Bridges’ silky smooth voice.

Where does Squarespace come in? Well, Bridges used the website publishing platform to create the album’s website, called DreamingWithJeff.com. Donations for the “pay what you like” tapes goes to Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign.

It’s possible that the prospect of napping with The Dude will be more appealing to big game watchers than taking selfies with Kim Kardashian.

 

TIME society

Local News Anchor Announces ALS Diagnosis and Retires in Touching Broadcast

After almost 40 years, Larry Stogner told viewers, "We have to stop meeting this way"

When longtime North Carolina news anchor Larry Stogner participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge last summer, he didn’t yet know that he was one of the 30,000 Americans who suffer from the neurological disease.

“I am sure that in recent months, you’ve noticed a change in my voice, my speech slower,” the anchor at ABC affiliate WTVD said in a touching broadcast last Friday. “Many of you were kind enough to email me ideas about what it might be, or just to show concern, and I truly appreciate that. As it turns out, I have ALS, Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

After almost four decades reporting the news, Stogner announced his retirement, telling viewers, “We have to stop meeting this way.”

After a vacation with his wife, Stogner will be back in two weeks to talk on-air with his colleagues and say a more formal goodbye.

Read next: Here’s What’s Happening With the Ice Bucket Challenge Money

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Advertising

Budweiser’s Super Bowl Ad About a Lost Puppy Is An Emotional Roller Coaster

Animal friendship at its finest

Budweiser has done it again.

Despite false rumors that the beer company was nixing its signature Clydesdales for the big game ad, Budweiser has continued its very successful strategy of highlighting the power of animal friendship. In a sequel to its 2014 ad “Puppy Love,” “Lost Dog” tells the story of an 11-week-old golden Lab who gets separated from his best friend — a Clydesdale horse.

What comes next is a minute-long emotional roller coaster that will make you feel like you’re watching Homeward Bound for the very first time.

Budweiser

Eight puppies between 11 and 12.5 weeks old were used in the filming of this ad, directed by RSA’s Jake Scott. The poignant soundtrack is by Sleeping At Last, who offer up an acoustic version of “I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles),” originally by the Proclaimers.

We won’t spoil the saga — warning: there are wolves!! — but you might want to sit down.

Read next: A Look at Budweiser’s Successful Clydesdale Campaign

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME animals

Here’s a Porcupine Predicting the Winner of the Super Bowl

Will this be Teddy Bear's fourth correct prediction?

Got some money riding on the 2015 Super Bowl? In need of a “sure thing?”

Thank goodness Teddy Bear the porcupine is here to predict whether the New England Patriots or Seattle Seahawks will win the big game. Spoiler: The psychic predator picked the Seattle Seahawks.

Will Teddy Bear get it right like he has in Super Bowl 46, 47, and 48 (no big deal, he’s just really good at this), or will he let us down? Because, well, he’s a porcupine.

Only time will tell.

See Next: 8 Animals Who Predicted the 2014 Super Bowl Winner

TIME viral

The ‘Ship Your Enemies Glitter’ Website Was Just a Big Marketing Stunt

Everything is a lie

A too-good-to-be-true prank website was actually, well, too good to be true.

The creator of Ship Your Enemies Glitter—a strange startup claiming to to do just that—told BetaBeat that the viral startup was actually just a marketing stunt. “My New Year’s resolution was to work on more side projects to keep me occupied whilst improving my marketing & development skills,” Matthew Carpenter, who created the site, wrote in an email. “I knew that if the story blew up on websites such as Reddit & Product Hunt that it would be a success.”

Carpenter played the Internet-friendly small business story to perfection, from feigning shock that his concept was a success (he begged consumers to stop buying glitter since he could keep up) to selling it last week for $85,000.

Although given the allegedly glittery condition of Carpenter’s living room, it appears as if he was trying to give his customers what they wanted. “The great thing about this project, no matter how messy my place has gotten from the glitter is that I’ve met a lot of really smart & creative people from it so hopefully I get to work with them on something cool moving forward,” he said.

[BetaBeat]

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