She may have a controversial history (and sparked more than a few body image issues), but we can’t help but remain fans of Barbie—particularly as the now 60-plus-year-old doll has been heading in a dramatically more inclusive and affirming direction as of late. Under parent company Mattel, she’s been working to close the Dream Gap, expanded the range of body, skin, and ability types and hairstyles (with mixed results), advocated for women in politics, celebrated Black icons and even had a candid conversation about racism amid last year’s cries for racial justice. (Cue: right wing parents accusing Barbie of pushing Critical Race Theory in 1, 2, 3...)
So, it’s only fitting that the latest offering in Barbie’s #ThankYouHeroes series honors six “experts in their fields who have shown unprecedented courage during a challenging time,” a global assortment of women who have been on the frontlines of combatting COVID-19, including, per Mattel:
- Amy O’Sullivan, RN (United States) - Emergency Room nurse Amy O’Sullivan treated the first COVID-19 patient in Brooklyn at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, became ill and was intubated, then a few weeks later returned to work to continue taking care of others.
- Dr. Audrey Sue Cruz (United States) - Dr. Cruz, a frontline worker from Las Vegas, NV, during the pandemic, joined forces with other Asian-American physicians to fight racial bias and discrimination.
- Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa (Canada)- A psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto, Canada, Dr. Oriuwa has advocated against systemic racism in healthcare, which has been further highlighted by the pandemic.
- Professor Sarah Gilbert (United Kingdom) - As a professor of vaccinology, Professor Gilbert led the development of the University of Oxford vaccine in the U.K.
- Dr. Jaqueline Goes de Jesus (Brazil) - As a biomedical researcher, Dr. Goes is credited for leading the sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil.
- Dr. Kirby White (Australia) - A General Practitioner in Australia, Dr. White co-founded the Gowns for Doctors initiative – by developing a PPE gown that could be laundered and re-used, allowing frontline workers in Victoria, AU to continue seeing patients during the pandemic.
“Barbie recognizes that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” said Senior Vice President of Barbie & Dolls at Mattel, Lisa McKnight 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.”
We love to see such a broad range of women represented—but admittedly, there’s one COVID hero we would’ve loved to see immortalized in these one-of-a-kind dolls: Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, the African American immunologist who Dr, Fauci himself has credited with being heavily involved in the development of the Moderna vaccine.
Clearly, we weren’t the only ones.
Just sayin’, Mattel—Dr. Kizzy is a Barbie Role Model we’re putting in a personal request for. Please make it so.
That omission aside, there’s still credit to be given to Mattel here, which is also donating $5 to the First Responders Children’s Foundation for each Barbie doctor, nurse or paramedic dolls sold at a Target location in August.
“I’m so incredibly honored to be a Barbie Role Model, shining a light on the commitment and compassion all frontline workers exhibited over the past year and a half and every single day,” said Cruz in a statement. “Kids imagine they can be anything but actually seeing that they can, and hearing the brave stories of others, makes all the difference.”