Barbie has released a limited edition range, which includes Head of ASIO and Governor of the Reserve Bank Barbies. But why won't the iconic brand make these inspiring toys part of their permanent collection?
To coincide with International Women's Day tomorrow, Mattel has released a limited edition collection of 'Never Before Barbies'. The new range of Barbies - which is not for sale - includes Australia-specific dolls, such as a Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police, a Chairman of the AFL, a First Woman on the Moon, a Governor of the Reserve Bank, a Head of ASIO and a President of the Australian Olympic Committee.
The 'Never Before Barbies' aim to position women in roles they've never before held, showing children that these jobs are not exclusively available to men. It's a fantastic opportunity for Australian girls to start dreaming big from a young age, and an encouraging initiative that we just wish would stick around after International Women's Day has been and gone.
Like the token gestures we saw made by Johnnie Walker and Sports Illustrated earlier this year, this feels like a missed opportunity by Barbie to integrate a more diverse range of women into their permanent collection and inspire young children with positive representations of women, particularly as the 'Never Before Barbies' are not actually available to purchase.
Seeing the new collection sit alongside Barbie's Fashionista Glam Party Dolls and Beach Dolls does make the 'Never Before Barbies' seem like a band-aid on top of many of the toy's deeply-rooted problems, in a society that has become more aware of the negative impact certain toys can have on its children.
Criticisms include the unattainable body shapes portrayed by both Barbie and Ken and the toys' very narrow and unenlightened representation of traditional gender roles.
At the same time, Barbie has released its 'Inspiring Women Series' in the US, which aims to pay tribute to incredible heroines of their time and includes Australian conservationist Bindi Irwin and Mexican artist and activist Frida Kahlo. But again - as the collection is aimed at 'the adult collector' - is the message really going to reach the people who need it the most: our vulnerable young children?
With 86% of US moms worried about the type of role models their daughters are exposed to, we are committed to shining a light on empowering female role models in an effort to inspire more girls.— Barbie (@Barbie) March 6, 2018
Join us by sharing your role models using #MoreRoleModels. #IWD2018 pic.twitter.com/FnEuBsDh23
Playing with toys should be a joyous and educational experience for children and, should they eventually go on sale, we'll be buying up Head of ASIO Barbies left, right and centre. But Barbie needs to come up with a permanent solution to redressing the unrealistic view of women their toys portray.
Lead image credit: Barbie