Even Barbie recognizes the pivotal role women have played in the pandemic.
The fashion-doll company — notorious for its size zero, blonde dolls — is diversifying itself with a new collection that honors six women in medicine, or “modern-life heroes of the pandemic,” as per Mattel, the big name behind Barbie.
“Barbie recognizes that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” Lisa McKnight, senior vice president of Barbie, said in a statement. “To shine a light on their efforts, we are sharing their stories and leveraging Barbie’s platform to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back.”
The six women who now have miniature, silicone versions of themselves include Sarah Gilbert, the Oxford University professor who co-developed the AstraZeneca vaccine, and emergency room nurse Amy O’Sullivan, who treated the first Covid patient in Brooklyn, New York, at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center.
Biomedical researcher Jaqueline Goes de Jesus, who was responsible for the sequencing of the genome of a Covid variant in Brazil, also got her very own Barbie doll, along with Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a Canadian psychiatry resident who advocated against systemic racism in healthcare. The last two are Kirby White, who organized the Gowns for Doctors fundraiser during the PPE shortage, and Audrey Sue Cruz, who worked with other Asian-American physicians against the Asian discrimination that soared during the pandemic.
“This recognition highlights the courage, dedication, and commitment that all frontline professionals have exhibited not just in the last year and a half, but every other day,” de Jesus said in a statement, according to USA Today.
Not everyone is a fan. Karren Brady, who often writes about women in business for the British tabloid, The Sun, questioned whether kids need to have, say, a Barbie doll of Sarah Gilbert to be inspired. “Why can’t our heroes be normal people, not Kardashian types with huge boobs and pouting lips?” she wrote. “Sarah’s achievements, in themselves, will inspire a generation of girls to follow in her footsteps. Surely kids don’t need a plastic facsimile with full make-up and a grotesquely distorted figure to inspire dreams and aspirations?”
The pandemic Barbie dolls come as part of Mattel’s #ThankYouHeroes series, which launched last year with Fisher Price action figures decked out in pandemic gear.
For this collection, Barbie will also donate $5 for every doll sold at Target through August to the First Responders Children’s Foundation, an organization that supports children who have lost a parent in the line of duty.