Earlier this March, women were celebrated all over the world for International Women’s Day, and Barbie was not about to miss that party. In recent years, the doll has shed her long locks and perfect plastic curves to become a beautifully inclusive and empowering feminist icon. Barbie’s new line is dubbed the “Inspiring Women Series,” and it’s made up of all kinds of historical female role models, from fencing champions to body activists.
Barbie’s official birthday is March 3rd, 1959, so it’s safe to say she’s been around for a lot of political and social changes. Though the company has been critiqued for not always keeping up with the times, we can still see their attempts at inclusively as far back as 1965, when Barbie was first sent to the moon. This was just the beginning of a never-ending string of updates, all intended to keep the classic doll relevant.
Next, Barbie was given a boyfriend (Ken), and after that a new group of friends. After her new crew had been around for a while, African-American and Latina dolls were added to the mix. Nonetheless, criticism surrounded Barbie for her mainly promoting privilege and impossible ideals. The company responded by rolling out a massive variety of new dolls, including characters like “Drag Queen Barbie” and “Chemo Barbie.” And the progression didn’t stop there: the next update marked a shift in both size and color. That collection showcased Barbies with four different body types, seven different skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 hairstyles. The hope was that young girls would be able to better identify with their dolls and no longer try to imitate the perfectly slim, fair-skinned ones.
The Inspiring Women Series is Barbie’s most recent effort to stay up-to-date with social and political issues. Barbie’s website explains that the new collection was “designed to inspire young girls to explore their own limitless potential while learning about the incredible women who helped pave the way for them.” The taglines for these dolls read “You can be anything” and “Barbie celebrates role models.” The company is even pushing the hashtag “#morerolemodels” to grow the campaign on social media sites. The toys link history to the future and serve as proof that women can make a positive and powerful difference in the world.
The Inspiring Women Series is comprised of role models from a number of diverse fields — a move that’s intended to help children realize that they can grow up to be anything they want. Still, all of the dolls are affectionately nicknamed “Barbie Shero” online. The collection notably includes a Chloe Kim Barbie to honor Kim’s recent success at the 2018 Winter Olympics. At 17 years old, Kim is the youngest female to ever win a gold medal in snowboarding. Another role model featured in the group is Australian conservationist Bindi Irwin. The daughter of “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin, Bindi has continued his work in wildlife conservation all throughout her life despite being just 18 years old. One final example is Ava Duvernay, the director of the documentary 13th. She is the first female African-American to recieve both a directing nomination at the Golden Globes and a nomination for Best Picture at the Oscars.
These are just three of the 19 amazing women celebrated in this collection, so be sure to check them all out — especially if you’re raising a young girl, or you simply support the success of women.