To celebrate 2018 International Women’s Day, Barbie, the world-renowned fashion doll brand, released 17 new role models, among which are three Chinese celebrities: Hui Ruoqi, Tan Yuanyuan and Guan Xiaotong.
Hui, who recently announced her retirement, is the former Chinese women's national volleyball team captain who led the players to gold medal victory during the 2016 Summer Olympics. Tan, a Chinese ballet dancer, is widely considered ‘the greatest Chinese ballerina of all time,’ and currently performs as the San Francisco Ballet’s prima ballerina. Guan Xiaotong is a Chinese actress who stars in both television and movie features.
On March 9, Mattel, Inc., the manufacturer of Barbie, held the ‘2018 Barbie Shero Ceremony’ at Joy City Mall to celebrate the 59th anniversary of the brand. Both Hui and Tan were present during the ceremony to share their own inspiring experiences.
“China accounts for the most ‘Sheroes’ in the new series.” states Peter Broegger, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Mattel. “It proves not only the increased influence of Chinese women, but also our emphasis on the Chinese market.”
As a matter of fact, Mattel opened its world’s first Barbie flagship store in Shanghai during 2009, however, it only saw success for two years before closing.
In addition to the ‘Sheroes’ series, an ‘Inspiring Women’ series was also released, and all dolls are based on real-life accomplished women such as Wonder Woman Director Patty Jenkins and Amelia Earhart, the legendary American pilot.
According to the company, these two new Barbie dolls series been released to inspire the infinite potential of every girl. “By shining a light on these role models, we are reminding them that they can be anything.” says Lisa McKnight, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Barbie.
That being said, not all of the people are impressed by the new series. “They said that we can be anything, then how come all of their dolls are unnaturally thin?” complains one of the netizens. The dolls are supposed the capture the likenesses of who they represent. Nonetheless, all of the dolls look identical. Take Hui’s Barbie as an example, you can’t feel the muscle despite the fact that she is an athlete. “I can’t recognize that it is Hui’s doll if not for the volleyball in her hand.” criticizes another netizen.
Many parents worry that these ‘role models’ will mislead their daughters to believe they need to be skinny to be pretty. “I don’t want my little girl to receive wrong message,” says one parent. “To tell the truth, I don’t even care whether she will become as successful as they do. I just want her to grow up without any burdens.”
So, despite these mixed reactions, I think we can still commend Mattel, Inc. on this move to highlight the many accomplished woman across a diverse range of platforms. It’s still a welcomed change from the standard blonde Barbie doll, and to immortalize these inspiring women will ensure their stories live on with generations to come.