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Barbie Honors Female Role Models in Sports

Barbie Honors Female Role Models in Sports

collection of Barbie dolls from Mattels new line honoring female athletes

In celebration of 65 years of Barbie, Mattel, Inc. has announced a collection of nine dolls to celebrate nine female athletes ahead of the Paris Summer Olympic Games.

“Barbie is proud to celebrate 65 years of inspiring the limitless potential in every girl alongside some of the world’s greatest athletes, who show us every day that girls have what it takes to make their dreams come true,” Barbie wrote on Instagram.

Barbie has partnered with VOICEINSPORT, a digital platform advocating to keep girls in sports, for this collection. Together, they are dedicated to leveling the playing field and keep young girls in sports around the world.

Venus Williams with look-alike Barbie doll

The athletes selected for this collection are globally recognized for their athletic success and role-modeling female athleticism. The nine trailblazing women include American tennis player Venus Williams, Canadian soccer player Christine Sinclair, Australian football player Mary Fowler, French boxer Estelle Mossely, Mexican gymnast Alexa Moreno, Brazilian gymnast Rebeca Andrade, Spanish paratriathlon athlete Susana Rodriguez, Italian swimmer Federica Pellegrini, and Polish track and field sprinter Ewa Swoboda. Each athlete has been honored with their own look-alike doll.

“By shining a light on these inspirational athletes and their stories, we hope to champion the belief that every young girl deserves the opportunity to pursue her passions and turn her dreams into reality,” said Krista Berger, Senior Vice President of Barbie and Global Head of Dolls, Mattel.

Every young girl deserves the opportunity to pursue her passions and turn her dreams into reality.

Krista Berger, Senior Vice President of Barbie and Global Head of Dolls, Mattel

The announcement for the dolls came with some negative reactions. Many Barbie fans were disappointed to learn the dolls would not be for sale, as Barbie confirmed to users in Instagram comments. Others have criticized the company’s use of feminism to promote marketing campaigns.

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“When taken up by brands that promote this kind of ‘girl power’, a new type of corporate feminism is created,” wrote academic experts on The Conversation, a non-profit news organization. “The result is a watering down of feminism. Women’s empowerment is reduced to a marketable commodity rather than a genuine engagement with feminist politics.”

Venus William's look-alike Barbie

The Conversation article highlighted a continuation of unrealistic beauty standards for these Barbies, which Barbie has received backlash for in the past. The authors noted that Williams, a toned and muscular athlete, looks the same as the stereotypical Barbie.

However, Williams has shared her excitement to partner with the company.

“Throughout my career, I’ve always been driven by the idea of shattering glass ceilings and staying true to myself, and Barbie’s mission couldn’t resonate more deeply with that ethos,” said Williams.

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