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Para Athlete Manasi Joshi Gets A Barbie Modelled After Her. Barbies Are Finally Shattering Stereotypes

October 12, 2020 | by Anjali Agarwal

I have spent half my childhood playing with Barbie dolls. I mean, I was more into race cars and music instruments growing up but still had a bunch of Barbies because probably, everyone seemed to think of dolls as a perfect gift for girls. Oh wait, not much has changed. However, the dolls did change and became more diverse and inclusive, which was long overdue. Back then, all Barbies looked the same—skinny, tall, super stylish, clad in girly dresses. Not anymore!

The dolls got a makeover and looked like real-life women that represented various race, colour and body types. These are curvy, petite and tall dolls of different skin tones. Not only that, these new dolls didn’t spend their time cooking, shopping or holidaying on the beachside. They had a career like real women too.

Mattel also introduced a series of role model Barbies modelled after powerful women of present and past from different walks of life to inspire young girls to pick a career like these women. These dolls featured world renowned chef, artists, designer, NASA mathematician, journalists and sportswomen from around the world. As part of Barbie Sheroes, Mattel recently debuted a barbie doll modelled on Para Badminton World Champion Manasi Joshi. She is the second Indian sportswoman after India’s Olympian gymnast Dipa Karmakar and first para athlete to be honoured with a Barbie modelled to her likeness.

Losing a leg in a road accident didn’t deter Joshi from making a career in sports and winning a silver medal in mixed doubles at the 2015 Para-Badminton World Championships and bronzes in the singles category of the 2018 Para Asian Games, 2018 Thailand Para-Badminton International and 2017 Para-Badminton World Championships. Her recent win was a gold medal in the BWF Para-Badminton World Championships in August. The Manasi Joshi Barbie comes dressed in a black tee and orange skirt, complete with a badminton racquet which will inspire girls to make a career in the sport.

Also Read: Mattel Just Added Three New Barbie Dolls To Its Women Collection And They Are Inspiring To Say The Least

After being honoured with one-of-a-kind Barbie after her on the occasion of International Day of Girl Child, Joshi tweeted, “Thank you @Barbie, it’s incredible to have an OOAK Barbie Doll modeled after me. I believe education around inclusion & diversity should start early & I hope that my story encourages young girls to harness their true potential & become whoever they set out to be #YouCanBeAnything.”

The shuttler shared how there is a serious need of change in perception of para sports and disability especially for the younger generation. “I believe education around diversity and inclusion should start at a very early age, and having dolls modelled after individuals from all walks of life will help young girls look up to these role models and believe that they can be anything they want to be on and off the field,” she told The Hindu. “I hope this changes how people perceive para sports or disability in India,” she added.

Mattel has been shedding the light on the importance of diversity and tackling social issues like racism with its dolls for quite some time now and we are loving it. Just a few days ago, a vlog became viral where Barbie takes a stand on racism and confronts white privilege in the most realistic way. The two dolls, Nikki and Barbie talk about how systematic racism is faced by people of colour on a daily basis. The black Barbie shares how people are treated unfairly only because of the colour of their skin which makes it important for everyone to read and learn more about black history.

Barbie is for long been deemed a stereotypical girl toy but I just feel, boys need to be taught these things too. We could really do with some boy toys imparting the same knowledge to boys instead of races and wars. Just saying.

With its size- and race- inclusive dolls, and now the role model dolls, Mattel is doing an excellent job of shaping the minds of young demography. These empowering women who are breaking the ceiling and winning in their respective fields despite the hurdles is truly inspiring for the girls. Manasi Joshi is just one; there are so many strong and powerful women that girl children need to know about and look up to so they know ‘they can be anything’, be it politician, sportswoman or a NASA scientist.

Also Read: #Inspiration: Barbie’s New “Campaign Team” Doll Set Has Them Running For Office. Now, That’s A Politically Correct Way To Empower Young Girls.

Anjali Agarwal

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