THE GOOD NEWS:
Mattel is slowly changing Barbie’s image by introducing dolls that empower young women.
Just in time for the 2018 International Women’s Day on March 8, Mattel has announced a new Barbie collection called “Inspiring Women.” The first three dolls will be real-life heroes aviator Amelia Earhart, artist Frida Kahlo, and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose story was brought to life in the film “Hidden Figures.”
Barbie unveils dolls based on real-life figures including Amelia Earhart, Frida Kahlo, Katherine Johnson and Chloe Kim ahead of #InternationalWomensDay https://t.co/LezfhZNjsB pic.twitter.com/LgPrJMjcAy— CNN (@CNN) March 6, 2018
According to Mattel and Barbie, the new line “pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.”
“As a brand that inspires the limitless potential in girls, Barbie will be honoring its largest line up of role models timed to International Women’s Day, because we know that you can’t be what you can’t see,” Lisa McKnight, the senior vice president and general manager of Barbie, said in a press release.
But some people are upset the Kahlo doll underplays her unibrow and upper lip hair. Kahlo proudly subverted Western beauty standards by not plucking or shaving the hair on her face.
Update: Mattel's New Frida Kahlo Barbie Doll Minimizes Unibrow and Upper Lip Hair https://t.co/vjBE9mxYMh— Jennifer Lara (@cosmeticsme) March 6, 2018
Barbie has also honored 14 modern-day women with one-of-a-kind dolls as part of its “Shero” program. The most recent honorees are “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins and gold medalist Chloe Kim. Past honorees include preservationist Bindi Irwin and U.K. boxing champion Nicola Adams.
Ahh! Im so happy to be honored as a @Barbie Shero alongside these incredible women! #InternationalWomensDay #Barbie pic.twitter.com/U0J7ajM0Sd— Chloe Kim (@chloekimsnow) March 6, 2018
Can't express how totally mind blowing and delightful it is to have your childhood favorite resemble you!! Thank you @Barbie, for this incredible honor, and for celebrating all kinds of women, everywhere. What a great way to inspire the girls of tomorrow! pic.twitter.com/X5FteJQltn— Patty Jenkins (@PattyJenks) March 6, 2018
For years, Mattel was criticized for promoting unattainable beauty standards to young women with its Barbie line. The Shero and Inspiring Women campaigns are part of a larger strategy to improve the brand’s image. In 2015, Mattel introduced 23 new dolls with different skin tones and hairstyles, and in 2016, it released dolls with realistic body types.