Photo: Emilee McGovern
Actress and activist Yara Shahidi now has an official Barbie doll in her likeness – and it’s wearing the same “Vote” t-shirt that she wore to her organization Eighteen x 18’s inaugural #WeVoteNext summit.
To celebrate International Women’s Day and Barbie’s 60th anniversary, Mattel revealed a new set of role models that represent 18 different countries. In addition to Shahidi, model Adwoa Aboah and U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka brought more Black girl magic to Barbie’s Shero collection, which includes: actress/activist Zendaya, Olympic gymnast Gabby Douglas, ballet phenom Misty Copeland, Nasa pioneer Katherine Johnson, visionary filmmaker Ava DuVernay, and Olympic Fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad (who has the first-hijab wearing Barbie Doll).
Shahidi, known as one of the voices for her generation, founded Eighteen x 18 to encourage her peers to become politically engaged. She also partnered with NYC’s Young Women’s Leadership Schools to create Yara’s Club, “a digital meet-up for high school students to discuss societal issues, self-improvement, and higher education,” reports People.
“I’m honored to be repping all the young ones as a Barbie Role Model,” Shahidi wrote in an Instagram post. “Let’s continue to inspire the next generation and each other. We need your voices and are watching you all Blossom and shine!”
Aboah, founder of Gurl Talk (an online community for young women to discuss issues such as mental health, education, and self-care), also took to Instagram to share how she felt about getting her own doll. She wrote: “Seeing my own doll that has my skin colour, shaved head, freckles and my tattoo’s is beyond mad. I spent the majority of my childhood wishing for blonde hair, pining over Barbie’s light skin and blue eyes. All those years ago and I didn’t feel like I was represented anywhere. But today with my big toothy grin ,I feel so very proud to have been awarded this Shero doll for all the hard work I have put into myself and @gurlstalk.”
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My very own Barbie! It’s mad!! Seeing my own doll that has my skin colour, shaved head, freckles and my tattoo’s is beyond mad. I spent the majority of my childhood wishing for blonde hair, pining over Barbies light skin and blue eyes. All those years ago and I didn’t feel like I was represented anywhere. But today with my big toothy grin I feel so very proud to have been awarded this Shero doll for all the hard work I have put into myself and @gurlstalk All I hope is that some little girl out there sees this and realises that her wildest dreams are possible if she puts her mind to it. I hear you and see you, this doll is for you. #MoreRoleModels #Shero #Barbie60 @BarbieStyle
Osaka, who is the first Haitian and the first Japanese player (man or woman) to reach World No.1, said to have her own doll is “a really big honor.”
Osaka told HuffPost, “I can only hope to be as big of a role model as those women have been. I just hope that I inspire people as well.”
“For 60 years, Barbie has championed girls, inspired generations to believe through make believe and showed them that they have choices. With more than 200 careers, six runs for president and a trip to the moon before Neil Armstrong, Barbie continues to evolve to be a modern, relevant role model for all ages,” said Lisa McKnight, Senior Vice President and Global General Manager for Mattel’s Barbie. “The Barbie brand believes girls should never know a world, job, or dream women haven’t conquered. Through our global platform, we are igniting a movement to help close the Dream Gap and further establish Barbie as the ultimate girl empowerment brand.”