Wednesday, January 17, 2024

Barbie Made News in 2023

During 2023, Barbie made news, actually LOTS OF NEWS ranging from recognition of some inspiring women to a blockbuster movie. This post serves as a recap and a celebration.

Mattel’s Barbie has become one of the world’s most popular dolls. Introduced in 1959, the Barbie doll owes its success to adapting to the ever-changing markets of various cultures and countries by launching Barbie dolls of shapes, colors, and sizes, and customization to the inhabitants of certain regions. Because Barbie has often been criticized for representing an unattainable beauty ideal for girls and women, the doll has evolved both in style and shape over the years.

The Barbie brand also honors pioneering women from throughout history. According to Mattel, "Barbie recognizes all female role models. The Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to the incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before."

Here are some interesting facts you may not know about Barbie. Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Since her inception, she has had 200 different careers. Around the world, a Barbie doll is sold every three seconds, and March 9 is celebrated each year as National Barbie Day.

2023 Career Collection - Women in Sports - September 2023:
Barbie's 2023 Career of the Year lineup honored women making strides toward equality in sports. The four featured dolls included a general manager with an official ID badge; a coach holding a playbook and megaphone; a referee equipped with headset, whistle and flag; and a sports reporter with microphone and notebook. According to Mattel, "The Career of the Year collection is an annual special release that features dolls in culturally relevant and aspirational roles in fields where women are under-represented."

According to Mattel's press release, "Women have been working toward greater gender equality in sports for decades, but still in 2023, women only make up 25 percent of U.S. college level head coaches, and only 30 percent of global sports participants are women. This year, our Career of the Year lineup highlights four careers in the sports industry to encourage girls to pursue involvement in sports and increase opportunities for girls as the next generation of empowered women."

In addition to this collection, Mattel announced its partnership with Voice in Sport, an online community and advocacy group for women and girls in sports, offering research, mentorship, and other resources.

Barbie Signature - Tribute Collection - Maria Felix - August 2023:
On the National Day of Mexican Cinema, the legacy of Maria Felix as one of the best actresses of the Mexican Golden Cinema was honored with a limited edition doll. Since 1943, her name gained relevance after her participation in the film, El Penon de las Animas, or translated into English, The Rock of Souls. According to doll designer Carlyle Nuera, "An incomparable beauty with ambition, intelligence, drive, and a social conscience, MarĂ­a Felix was a Mexican movie star whose performances in film captivated audiences across the world. She used her fame and influence to advocate for positive change across Mexican and Latin societies. Barbie honors this cultural icon with a doll that glimmers in an elegant gold and black gown and shines with ornate oversized jewelry.”

Barbie Inspiring Women Series - Celia Cruz - September 2023:
To celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, the legacy of Celia Cruz was honored with a Barbie doll. Her doll featured a stunning blond wig styled in an elegant high bun complemented by a necklace, long earrings, and distinctive gold dancing shoes.

According to Mattel, "A dazzling performer of many genres of Afro-Caribbean music, Celia Cruz had a powerful contralto voice, energetic stage presence, and a unique style that endeared her to fans from different nationalities and across generations. One of few women to succeed in the male-dominated world of salsa music, the "Queen of Salsa" performed for more than five decades and recorded more than 50 albums. She garnered more than 100 worldwide recognitions, multiple platinum and gold records, three GRAMMY awards and four Latin GRAMMY awards, three honorary doctorates, the Presidential Medal of Arts, and a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame."

Music Series Barbie - Stevie Nicks - October 2023:
To celebrate Stevie Nicks' 75th birthday, Mattel honored her with a Barbie doll. According to Entertainment Weekly, "The Fleetwood Mac frontwoman's doll features Nicks in a beguiling black dress with chiffon statement sleeves inspired by the iconic dress she wore on the album cover for the band's 1977 album Rumours. The spellbinding look is completed by a golden moon necklace, knee-length black boots, and a tambourine with cascading ribbons. Nicks' doll is part of Mattel's Music Series Barbies, joining the ranks of Gloria Estefan, David Bowie, Elvis Presley, Elton John, and Tina Turner, who have all been honored with their own Barbies."

Barbie Inspiring Women Series - Wilma Mankiller - November 2023:
Wilma Mankiller was a fierce advocate for Native American and women's rights, and the first female Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation. As a social worker, she worked to empower indigenous communities, which earned her the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1998, the highest civilian honor, from President Bill Clinton. Two of her many accomplishments included a decline in the infant mortality rate and a rise in educational achievement in the Cherokee Nation. Mattel worked with Mankiller's family and friends to design the doll, which is dressed in a turquoise dress with striping to represent the four directions of a compass: north, south, east, and west.

And of course, there was the blockbuster that appeared in movie theaters on July 21, 2023. Directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie, the Barbie movie definitely made its mark on Hollywood and beyond. Here is one of the movie's stand-out moments:

"Gloria's (America Ferrera) moving monologue is one of the film's most powerful quotes. Gloria describes the immense expectations and the unfair standards that females are subjected to in order to be viewed as desirable and liked by others. During the scene, Barbie has an emotional moment confessing how she feels she is not good enough for anything. Gloria tells Barbie how she is so beautiful, and it kills Gloria that Barbie doesn't think she is good enough. Gloria continues by saying, "I'm just so tired of watching myself, and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us."

What inspirational women would you like to see transformed into a Barbie doll? Tune in next January to see who Mattel honors during 2024.

Image Credit: Mattel.

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