Mattel has added a 10th doll to its line inspired by real-life women who have broken boundaries, inspired girls and played with Barbies as children
As Bonnie Tyler would no doubt be singing in this new Weinstein-hammering, Louis CK-toppling, boundary-resetting age – I need a shero! And, such is this new, Weinstein-hammering, Louis CK-toppling, boundary-resetting age, I have one. Several, in fact, courtesy of Mattel’s line of Shero Barbies. The company has just unveiled its 10th doll in the collection designed to create a fuller representation of humanity and offer greater aspirations to its impressionable young customers. None of whom – it has long been noticed – will grow up to achieve what would be Barbie’s real-life height of 5ft 9in, weight of 110lb, head too heavy to lift and waist of 16 inches, which would leave room for only half a liver and a few inches of intestine.
The 10th Shero is the first Barbie to wear a hijab. She is modelled on Ibtihaj Muhammad, the fencer who, last year, became the first American to compete and win a medal in the Olympics wearing the hijab.
“Today, I’m proud to know that little girls who wear a hijab and, just as powerfully, those who don’t, can play with Barbie in a headscarf,” says Muhammad. “I know that the more diverse dolls are offered, the many more inspiring stories girls will be able to tell.”
Muhammad was presented with the first doll off the line by Ashley Graham, the plus-size model and activist who was the basis for last year’s Shero, number nine.
The very first Shero was a one-off, created for Zendaya Coleman after she wore her hair in dreadlocks to the 2015 Oscars and the presenters of the Fashion Police show caused outrage by commenting that they must smell “of patchouli or weed”. Six more dolls followed, including ones for the actor Emmy Rossum, Tony award-winner Kristin Chenoweth and director Ava DuVernay. The last – which had the dreadlocked director clad in her customary polo neck, jeans and trainers and sitting in her director’s chair – created such a demand that Mattel put it into production. It sold out online within minutes.
Last year, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas and ballet dancer Misty Copeland (who stipulated that the company “not shy away from the fact that I have muscular calves, hips, a bust and brown skin”) were rendered in fully articulated doll form, and Misty too went into full production, as Muhammad will do next year.
According to Mattel, to be considered for Shero status, a woman needs to have broken boundaries, inspired girls and played with Barbies as a girl herself. Which is all fine and potentially empowering stuff but also sounds to me like a call to arms for Sindy-lovers everywhere. British sheroes, fully accessorised: Helen Mirren in her red bikini and Elizabeth II wig; Jane Austen with a reticule full of tenners; Prue Leith with Mel and Sue in her pocket and Sandi Toksvig in Mel’s. Susan Calman in a ballgown and tears. Come on, Pedigree Toys & Dolls – you know it makes sense.Read more at theguardian.com