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Mattel Says Olympic Barbies ‘Fell Short’ After Critics Note Lack Of Asian Representation

Written by on August 10, 2021

(HuffPost) – Mattel, the brand behind Barbie, says it “will work to find more ways to champion all representation” after many critics lambasted the brand’s Olympic Games collection for not having an Asian Barbie.

Last year, the company collaborated with the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organizers to develop a line of dolls for the Games. 

 A press release from Mattel of the announcement noted that it would highlight “inclusivity and innovation, with toys reflecting the five new sports added to the Olympic program in Tokyo ― baseball/softball, sport climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing ― all to inspire a new generation of athletes and fans around the world.”

People were quick to notice that the dolls appeared to be primarily white and Black, with none of the dolls appearing to be of Asian descent despite the Olympics taking place in Japan. 

Many within the Asian community noted that the oversight was egregious not only because of where the Olympics took place this year but also in the wake of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May and the rash of anti-Asian violence and rhetoric that has sprung up during the coronavirus pandemic.

While Mattel maintains its skateboarding doll was intended to represent the Asian community, a spokesperson told HuffPost via email that the company acknowledges its “intention to represent” the community “fell short.” 

Fostering a more inclusive world is at the heart of our brand and we strive to reflect that in our Barbie product line. With our Barbie Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 dolls, we celebrate a range of athletes to inspire kids to find their athlete within,” said the spokesperson.

“However, our intention to represent the Asian community with the Skateboarder doll fell short and we fully receive and recognize the feedback. 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.”

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