Impact

Calling all role models

Barbie debuts new dolls to show girls what their own futures might look like

Now available, the Barbie, modeled after the Olympic fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad is part of the “Shero” line of dolls from Mattel that is based on inspirational women who are breaking social barriers.

It’s a simple concept: if you can see it, you can be it. So what happens when you can’t see anyone who looks like you doing the jobs you dream of doing—or doing the jobs that inspire you to dream? This is a growing concern for parents, as 81 percent of moms worldwide worry about the types of role models their daughters are exposed to, according to a 2017 surveycommissioned by Mattel. But what if those same girls were introduced to Great Britain’s most successful female boxer or a groundbreaking Hollywood filmmaker—all through the imaginative world of play?

81 percent of moms worldwide worry about the types of role models their daughters are exposed to, according to a recent survey commissioned by Mattel

Over the past six decades, Barbie has taken on a range of different careers, from doctor to teacher to astronaut. And now, additional historical and modern-day role models, or “Sheroes,” from around the world, have been Barbie-fied to inspire the next generation to reach their limitless potential.

The newest additions to Barbie’s Shero program, introduced for International Women’s Day 2018, include one-of-a-kind dolls representing 14 real women who have broken boundaries in their fields. They range from U.S. snowboarding champion Chloe Kim and Australian conservationist Bindi Irwin to prima ballerina Yuan Tan of China and Spanish fashion designer Vicky Martin Berrocal.

In addition, the new doll line features three famous figures—aviator Amelia Earhart, artist Frida Kahlo and NASA mathematician and physicist Katherine Johnson—accompanied by educational information about their accomplishments.

“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,” says Lisa McKnight, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Barbie.

Now, if Barbie has anything to do with it, every time a little girl opens her toy chest, a world of possibility awaits.

  1. An online survey of 8,000 moms of daughters aged 0-10 years old was commissioned by Mattel and conducted by market research company OnePoll, in accordance with the Market Research Society’s code of conduct.