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Mattel Releases “Inspiring Women” Barbies for International Women’s Day

Mattel, the toy-maker behind the famous Barbie doll, recently consulted with over 8,000 mothers across the globe and found that 86% of mothers are concerned about the types of role models their daughters grow up with.

How did Mattel react to this news?

Just in time for International Women’s Day, Mattel has just released two different lines of “Inspiring Women” dolls. The first, the “Inspiring Women” line, focuses on female role models of the past, providing educational information about the woman that inspired each doll. At the moment, there are only three dolls in the line: mexican artist and activist Frida Kahlo, famous female pilot Amelia Earhart, and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson. Mattel says the collection will continue to grow over time, with many different dolls inspired by many eminent women from all fields and backgrounds.

The second line is called the “Shero” line.  It pays homage to contemporary women making history today. Current dolls in this line include olympic snowboarder Chloe Kim and “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins.

This isn’t the first time the company has made a push to inspire young girls to follow their dreams, as Barbie herself has been a doctor, a scientist, a ballerina, and many other diverse things roles over the years. However, this time Mattel has truly gone above and beyond with making sure children know they can grow up to accomplish amazing things. The dolls will hit the shelves soon but are currently being pre-sold online.

However, the Frida Kahlo doll in particular have been met with criticism from both her family and others. The family claims they were unaware of the making of this doll, and do not believe it lives up to her iconic image. The family also claims that Mattel did not receive permission to use Kahlo’s likeness, and that the rights of her image belongs solely to Kahlo’s great niece, Mara de Anda Romeo. Mattel, has countered that they made sure to work closely with the Frida Kahlo Corporation, and were given permission to use her identity, likeness, and story to create the doll. Salma Hayek, who played Kahlo in the film “Frida”, also did not approve of the release of the doll.

Hayek expressed her anger, saying “Kahlo never tried to be or look like anyone else. She celebrated her uniqueness. How could they turn her into a Barbie” (Hayek via Instagram.com). Nothing has been said on whether or not Kahlo’s family intends to take legal action against Mattel.

Though these lines have been met with some criticism, the overall reception has been overwhelmingly positive. All of the dolls are currently sold out online, with no word on whether or not they will be restocked soon.

Many have expressed their excitement over the dolls on social media, wishing they had dolls like this when they were young children. While there are still a few rough patches to be worked out, the mere creation of these lines is revolutionary in itself. Young children across the world will have even more amazing role models to look up to than ever before, and will be inspired to go out and create, explore, and shine. Now more than ever do we need the young people of this world excited and ready to make great change. These dolls may be a small step, but a very important one nonetheless.

Sophia is a junior theatre major and creative writing minor at Muhlenberg College. She is also very passionate about writing, reading, and politics.
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