Mattel is writing checks that their Barbie dolls can’t cash.
On Monday (May 2), the toy company announced its newest addition to their line of empowering “Sheroes” dolls by creating one in the likeness of American Ballet Theatre’s first African-American principal ballerina, Misty Copeland. Dressed in the fiery red tutu from “Firebird,” this doll was co-designed by Copeland to make sure it mirrored her fiercely strong lean muscles, and natural womanly curves.
“I always dreamed of becoming an ABT ballerina and through Barbie I was able to play out those dreams early on,” Copeland says in a press release. “It’s an honour to be able to inspire the next generation of kids with my very own Barbie doll.”
Lisa McKnight, senior vice-president of Barbie further explained the purpose of their new Shero line of dolls. “As a brand, we want to honor women, like Misty,” she says. “who are inspiring the next generation of girls to live out their dreams.”
This all sounds great! It would seem that any parent would want to buy the entire line of Shero dolls for their child. But guess what? You can’t.
This is what pops up when searching to buy a “Shero” doll on Mattel’s website.
So what’s the deal? In April 2015, dolls were created that looked like director Ava DuVernay, actress and animal activist Emmy Rossum, Lucky’s youngest ever female editor-in-chief Eva Chen, singer Trisha Yearwood and Tony-award winner and education foundation director Kristen Chenoweth. These new dolls were largely hyped in their debut at the Variety Power of Women Luncheon in New York City.
These trailblazing women featured as dolls are “like Barbie,” the brand’s spokesman said. They “have broken boundaries, challenged gender norms and proven girls can be anything they want to be.” However, after these dolls were introduced as kicking off National Shero Day (April 27), they were then auctioned off at the luncheon and never to be seen again.
Pray, tell. How can Barbie claim to be jump-starting a new movement to inspire girls when the product they’re touting doesn’t actually exist? That’s like a restaurant offering a menu of food items that were cooked only once for a special occasion — and even though the kitchen never made any of these dishes again, all items are still being bragged about as part of that eclectic menu.
If Barbie offered the Shero dolls as a limited edition line or a special collector’s batch, we’d give them credit. But they did neither. Mattel merely presented prototypes of the dolls for a charity auction. While that in itself deserves a round of applause, it’s still a complete misrepresentation of Shero’s core advertising campaign.
Barbie is, at least, beginning to right its path. The Copeland doll is actually for sale. For purchase information, check it out here.