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Barbie is fighting for her life

  • FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2007, file photo, Barbie dolls are seen at the Barbie Store in Buenos Aires. As Mattel reported on July 17, 2013, Barbie is suddenly facing a popularity contest as the most popular doll on the Market. Instead, Mattel’s Monster High dolls, have exploded in popularity since being introduced in 2010.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, file)

    FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2007, file photo, Barbie dolls are seen at the Barbie Store in Buenos Aires. As Mattel reported on July 17, 2013, Barbie is suddenly facing a popularity contest as the most popular doll on the Market. Instead, Mattel’s Monster High dolls, have exploded in popularity since being introduced in 2010. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, file)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2007, file photo, Barbie dolls are seen at the Barbie Store in Buenos Aires. As Mattel reported on July 17, 2013, Barbie is suddenly facing a popularity contest as the most popular doll on the Market. Instead, Mattel’s Monster High dolls, have exploded in popularity since being introduced in 2010.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, file)

    FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2007, file photo, Barbie dolls are seen at the Barbie Store in Buenos Aires. As Mattel reported on July 17, 2013, Barbie is suddenly facing a popularity contest as the most popular doll on the Market. Instead, Mattel’s Monster High dolls, have exploded in popularity since being introduced in 2010. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, file)

  • FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2007, file photo, Barbie dolls are seen at the Barbie Store in Buenos Aires. As Mattel reported on July 17, 2013, Barbie is suddenly facing a popularity contest as the most popular doll on the Market. Instead, Mattel’s Monster High dolls, have exploded in popularity since being introduced in 2010.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, file)
  • FILE - In this Oct. 31, 2007, file photo, Barbie dolls are seen at the Barbie Store in Buenos Aires. As Mattel reported on July 17, 2013, Barbie is suddenly facing a popularity contest as the most popular doll on the Market. Instead, Mattel’s Monster High dolls, have exploded in popularity since being introduced in 2010.  (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko, file)

As far as catfights go, this is a doozy.

Barbie, long the reigning queen in the doll world, has suddenly been thrust into the battle of her life.

But Barbie’s competitors look nothing like the blue-eyed, blonde-haired, long-legged fashion icon. And they don’t have the same baggage and old standards of beauty, either.

Monster High dolls, vampy teens that are patterned after the offspring of monsters like Dracula and Frankenstein, have neon pink and green streaks in their hair. They wear platform heels and mini-skirts with skulls on them. And the dolls that go by names like Draculaura and Ick Abbey Bominable are gaining on Barbie.

In the Maddux household in Portage, Wis., for instance, Olivia, 10, has been playing with Barbie for six or seven years. But she added Monster High dolls to the mix a year ago.

“I look at Olivia and some of her friends and see they’re growing out of Barbies,” says Olivia’s mom, Lisa Maddux, 42, a freelance writer.

That Barbie is losing her edge is no surprise. Since debuting in 1959 as the world’s first fashion doll, Barbie has long been a lightning rod for controversy and competitors.

To be sure, Barbie is still No. 1 in the doll market, and the Mattel franchise is worth $1.3 billion. But everything from the growing popularity of Monster High dolls to increased criticism over Barbie’s impossibly proportioned body at a time when the average American woman is about a size 14, have led some to question whether the diva has reached her prime.

This isn’t Barbie’s first brush with trouble, though.

The 54-year-old doll has been forced to evolve with the times, graduating from pin-up girl to a range of characters from astronaut to engineer to princess. But detractors have long criticized the 11.5-inch doll’s frame, which would equate to about a 39-inch bust, 18-inch waist and 33-inch hips on a life-size woman, impossibly top-heavy and tiny-waisted.

In fact, artist Nickolay Lamm recently posted pictures of what the doll would look like if it had the average measurements of a 19-year-old, revealing a much more meaty physique. The pictures were featured on websites from CNN to Time and renewed controversy over the doll’s effect on a girl’s body image.

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