Mattel says skateboarder Barbie was supposed to be Asian, admits 'falling short' on representation

·2 min read

Mattel has issued a statement regarding its alleged lack of an Asian doll in its Tokyo Olympics Barbie collection.

The backlash: The latest wave of criticism started after Barbie repromoted the five-doll collection on July 28. Social media users alleged that none of the toys looked “Asian,” despite the fact that the Games were in Tokyo and that Asians had been winning medals from day one.

  • First unveiled in February 2020, the collection reflects five sports that debuted at or returned to the Tokyo Games, namely (1) baseball/softball, (2) sport climbing, (3) karate, (4) skateboarding and (5) surfing. A press release from Mattel said that it highlights “inclusivity and innovation.”

  • Some have since speculated that the skateboarder Barbie — fair-skinned, brunette and with relatively wide-set eyes — is Asian. However, one Twitter user pointed out that “ambiguously Asian isn’t good enough.”

Mattel's response: Early during the backlash, NextShark reached out to Mattel representatives listed on the original press release but did not receive a reply. This week, the company issued a statement to multiple outlets, explaining that the skateboarder Barbie did intend to “represent the Asian community.”

  • “Our intention to represent the Asian community with the Skateboarder doll fell short and we fully receive and recognize the feedback,” Mattel said, according to NBC News. “Moving forward, we will work to find more ways to champion all representation and celebrate the amazing achievements of all Olympic athletes, who are showing us that anything is possible.”

  • The company added that fostering a more inclusive world “is at the heart” of its brand. It maintained that its Tokyo 2020 Barbie dolls celebrate “a range of athletes to inspire kids to find their athlete within,” the Los Angeles Times noted.

Featured Image via My World of Dolls!

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