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Women Call Out Zara's Barbie Collection For Promoting 'Unrealistic Body Type'

Joanna Freedman

| Last updated 

Women Call Out Zara's Barbie Collection For Promoting 'Unrealistic Body Type'

Featured Image Credit: Zara

Zara has launched a new collection in collaboration with Mattel's Barbie - and some people are less than impressed with the body image messaging that comes with it.

Following the success of the international fashion brand's 2020 Barbie collection, which included bodysuits and printed tees, the new campaign has launched on a much bigger scale, not only offering new garms' but a whole digital marketing reel, too.

The range is made up of a girly (mostly pink) eight-piece activewear collection, including a hoodie, jogging trousers, a long-sleeve top, t-shirts, shorts and swimwear.

Plus, Zara will be selling limited-edition Barbie dolls online, too, with proceeds going to Spanish charity Entreculturas.

People called the Zara models 'unrealistic' (Credit: Zara)
People called the Zara models 'unrealistic' (Credit: Zara)

But reacting to the news, some shoppers had issues with the promotion of Barbie in 2021 - in particular her largely unchanged aesthetic (still as slim as ever) and the lack of development of the the doll's character within the campaign (where's the bada*s b*tch that can do whatever she wants in life? Why is all we're seeing another pretty girl with a clutch bag?).

Sharing a passionate critique on their Instagram account @AwkwardZara, one critic wrote: "Okay apart from being an utter trainwreck of a collection destined for landfill, Zara's recent Barbie collection has raised a lot of really interesting and valid concerns from our followers on the topic of perpetuating Barbie's unrealistic body type.

"When most brands seem to be aware that the average UK dress size for women is a 16 and have begun to display size diversity in their images, Zara has always dug its heels into the ground in this respect.

"At a time when EDs are rightly being discussed more than ever as harmful to young women, a collection celebrating a plastic doll with proportions which cannot possibly be achieved by a real human - with creative direction such as low angle photography designed to elongate their bodies to a level of distortion - feels tone deaf."

The Instagram account shared this statement (Credit: Instagram/ @AwkwardZara)
The Instagram account shared this statement (Credit: Instagram/ @AwkwardZara)

The Instagram account - which was originally made to lightly mock Zara's rather conceptual modelling shots - took a more serious tone as it addressed the upset that the range had caused among its 45,400 followers.

"This is by far the most DMs that have EVER been sent to this page in its entire history (even beating the disgusted reactions to the arm warmers), and so it felt important to give you guys a platform to comment your thoughts & views about the Barbie collection below, rather than them permanently living in the Awkward Zara DMs!

"Please feel free to comment below if you wish, in the hope that Zara might listen to what people are thinking."

Many women did flock to express their opinions, and the vast majority seemed unimpressed.

The Barbie doll's aesthetic has long been lauded outdated (Credit: PA)
The Barbie doll's aesthetic has long been lauded outdated (Credit: PA)

"Seriously Zara: I genuinely thought we left this skewed body image back in the 90s? Disappointed," wrote one.

While another penned: "To me this is a missed opportunity. Barbie's strength is that she can be whoever she wants: she can be a princess, a doctor, a mother, an astronaut and so on. Instead this campaign seems to promote Barbie as a body type women should aspire to."

A third wrote: "This is so out of touch".

As a fourth chipped in: "Yes agree this is awful advertising - everything is wrong - shame on you Zara!"

Zara is also selling Barbie dolls as part of the collection (Credit: Zara)
Zara is also selling Barbie dolls as part of the collection (Credit: Zara)

"I'm increasingly unimpressed with @zara and, for me, you've explained why perfectly. I just hope no women get triggered or molded by this campaign," said another.

The reaction spilled over to Twitter, too.

"When eating disorders are being discussed more than ever, when inclusion is our main priority - this is the image used by a leading fashion brand. #zarabarbie," one woman wrote alongside a snap from the new campaign.

"We've been told Barbie can be anything she wants to be - a scientist, an actress, a vet, a teacher - so why do I not feel that when I look at this campaign image? Why have they taken this image from low down to make the model look even more elongated and 'skinny'? #zarabarbie

"I truly believe that it's up to the people at the top to make the changes. To use these opportunities given to them and change what now feels like medieval thinking. This could have been an incredible campaign but yet again, I'm left disappointed and left wondering who is in charge of so many of these fashion companies creative?"

However, there were some who backed it.

"@zara is a company that is so popular and wide-spread because it functions like an haute-couture fashion brand with prices affordable to the middle class.

"That means they sustain an image of a trend-setter, an artistic brand that doesn't respond solely to the utilitarian needs of the public," one defender wrote.

"Just like this Barbie collection - it sparked a conversation, which is what art is supposed to do. They played with the way models are portrayed, as if they were plastic, - and it's on the viewer to read into it or not. I personally didn't see it as Zara's attempt to push an "unrealistic" body figure."

While another penned: "The collection images give me the creeps, but as a 'skinny girl' the term 'unrealistic body type' when referring to thin girls has always been a trigger point.

"Skinny girls aren't 'not normal' or 'unhealthy' (although some can be I won't detract from that). I agree we need 'more diversity' but that includes the skinny ones too and I don't think it's fair to be insulting or derogatory".

Tyla has contacted Zara for comment.

Topics: U Ok M8?, Style News, Fashion, Health

Joanna Freedman
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