A Barbie Girl in a Barbie World: Mattel Communications VP Talks “Tiny Shoulders” [podcast]

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I played with Barbie growing up and I loved it. She also wasn't the only toy I played with and I was never told that she was the ideal body type or that I should be like her. But many women over the last 60 years have felt like Barbie sets a standard of beauty and success they have to live up to. Why do we compare ourselves to a toy? You wouldn't let your son compare himself to the physical look of a Transformer so why do we do that as girls? These are just a few of the questions that popped into my mind when I was watching Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie on Hulu. It's a new documentary that shows the inner workings of the Barbie team at Mattel headquarters. One of the key players on that team is Michelle Chidoni. She is the Vice President of Global Communications for Mattel and is tasked with making sure an iconic brand doesn't slide into PR nightmare when the brand decides to rethink Barbie for a modern world. In her 59 years, Barbie has become a fashion icon, a lightning rod and a topic among feminists. Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie, featuring newly discovered footage and unprecedented access to the inner workings of a toy giant during Barbie’s biggest reinvention, surveys 60 years of women in popular culture through the lens of this 11.5 inch, Zelig-like plastic icon. Featuring interviews with Gloria Steinem, Roxane Gay, Peggy Orenstein, Mattel insiders and cultural historians, the documentary reveals, through both funny and fascinating archival material, and fly-on-the-wall observations of Barbie’s current architects, the progression and regression in the fight for gender equality. That's a lot for a tiny doll to tackle, thus the name Tiny Shoulders. Chidoni is also a mom of a little girl. She opens up about her own decision to let her child play with Barbie and why she personally loves what she represents. This is a fascinating peek into the toy industry and a toy that's beloved by fans around the world. Watch the documentary then listen to this podcast for a deeper understanding of Mattel's decision to create Barbies of different shapes, sizes and ethnicities. Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie is available now on Hulu. It was produced, written and directed by Andrea Nevins.

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