If you’ve been sleeping on Barbie for the past few years, you’re in for a big surprise. Since 2015, Mattel has produced a line of “sheroes” – dolls based on real women from all walks of life – in addition to diversifying their regular line of dolls. In honor of Barbie’s 60th Anniversary – and International Women’s Day – let’s take a look at this year’s sheroes.
The Dream Gap Project is Mattel’s global initiative meant to inspire new generations of young women. For the past several years, Mattel has been committed to highlighting empowering female role models from varied careers, cultures, and countries. The goal is to show girls that they can be whatever they want to be.
Barbie’s newest sheroes feature athletes, activists, actresses, artists, and more. As this year is the 60th anniversary, it is their biggest celebration of role models yet. There are 20 women represented this year, from 18 countries on five continents, including a woman in a wheelchair, which may be the first fashion doll to have one.
Take a look at this year’s role models:
You can read more about each of the women (and see dolls from previous years) on the Barbie website. These women join the likes of Ava Duvernay, Gabby Douglas, and Ashley Graham in being immortalized as a Barbie.
But that’s not all. I mentioned earlier that Mattel has been working hard to diversify the Barbie line. At the NY Toy Fair in 2016, I got to take a look at Barbie’s “Fashionista” line – a line of 33 dolls that includes four different body types, seven different skin tones, and 24 hairstyles. The career line now features jobs like beekeeper, baker, political candidate, robotics engineer, pediatrician, farmer, and musician, just to name a few of the over 200 careers represented.
Barbie is changing with the times – in 2017 the official Instagram posted a photo of Barbie wearing a “Love Wins” t-shirt, and recently reached out to a gay couple who made their on same-sex wedding playset for their niece. There aren’t yet any LGBTQ+ Barbies, but hopefully that changes soon. (At least give us a Pride shirt or something – or make the “Love Wins” shirt that she’s wearing something that can actually be purchased for Barbie.)
Barbie has come a long way in 60 years. I grew up with two sisters and an insane Barbie collection. I would have given my left arm to have even a fraction of the options available to girls today. Major props to Mattel for making one of its most iconic toys resemble the world at large a little more.
And happy birthday, Barbie!
Author: Jamie Sugah
Jamie has a BA in English with a focus in creative writing from The Ohio State University. She self-published her first novel, The Perils of Long Hair on a Windy Day, which is available through Amazon. She is currently an archivist and lives in New York City with her demon ninja vampire cat. She covers television, books, movies, anime, and conventions in the NYC area.
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