Barbie is known worldwide for being tall, white, and blonde. Well, until now.
Times are a-changin’.
In honor of International Women's Day, the makers of Barbie — who only a year ago turned their flagship doll into an engineer — are about to release a trio of diverse, fiercely feminist dolls modeled after Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, American pilot Amelia Earhart, and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson.
The new series, “Inspiring Women,” is part of a larger initiative by the company to educate young girls about some of the most rebellious and daring women in history. Each doll will come with the real woman’s backstory.
“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 statement on Tuesday.
In case you need one, here’s a crash course on these three badass women.
Photos via Barbie/Mattel.
Earhart, known as the “Queen of Air,” was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean solo. Kahlo is known as a legendary artist whose timeless paintings and self-portraits depicting the triumph and trials of womanhood. And in case you didn’t see “Hidden Figures,” Johnson was a mathematician who trail-blazed a path for black women in STEM. If it weren’t for her calculations, astronaut Neil Armstrong wouldn’t have made that “giant leap for mankind” on the moon in 1969.
The new line is the company’s latest effort to promote diversity, inclusivity, and representation.
In the past, the toy seriously lacked diversity when it comes to body proportions, cultural backgrounds, and skin tones. For years, Mattel has been on the receiving end of numerous critiques on how Barbie — a supermodel-tall, disproportionately skinny, white, blue-eyed blonde — sets an unrealistic standard for young girls.
In an attempt to fix that, Mattel has launched a series of campaigns to empower young girls with dolls with realistic body types and multiple skin tones. The “You Can Be Anything” line includes dolls with “three body types (tall, curvy, petite), seven skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 hairstyles.”
In honor of #InternationalWomensDay, we are committed to shining a light on empowering female role models past and… https://t.co/hTzAvJrHXH— Barbie (@Barbie) 1520344833
Then, in May 2016, Mattel announced their “Sheroes” line of dolls featuring numerous notable women who shattered stereotypes and broke boundaries in industries where they are underrepresented. Some of the women featured are actresses Kristin Chenoweth, Zendaya, and Emmy Rossum; directors Patty Jenkins and Ava DuVernay; Olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim; and first-ever African-American principal ballet dancer, Misty Copeland.
For International Women’s Day on March 8, the brand stated they will be honoring and sparking conversations about the 17 global female role models featured in the their “Shero” program.
One year later, Mattel announced fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad as their first hijabi Barbie doll. In 2016, Muhammad became the first American to compete in the Olympic Games while wearing a hijab.
Katherine Johnson doll.
Let’s hope this new line — as well as Mattel’s continued efforts to champion female empowerment and representation — will inspire a whole generation of young women that they can do anything.
“Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie and we are thrilled to shine a light on real life role models to remind them that they can be anything,” McKnight said in the Mattel statement.
The doll company has made an entire fortune of Barbie pursuing numerous of ambitious careers from doctor to lawyer to astronaut. But with the “Inspiring Women” series, young kids around the world will learn more about the real women — some of whom look a lot like them — who overcame real challenges and made a real impact in the world.
And, just maybe, one of these young girls will grow up to have a doll made in honor of them.