After outraging some conservatives last November by featuring a boy in one of their adverts for Barbie (‘Moschino Barbie is so fierce!’), toy makers Mattel may face further backlash with the news that they’ve created a brand new Barbie version US soccer star Abby Wambach.
If you thought Barbie dolls were all one shape and image, the new Abby Wambach doll goes some way to confronting stereotypes and showing young girls (and boys), that female role models don’t all come in one mold.
Wambach, in case your not clued up on your soccer, is a two-time Olympic Gold Medal winning soccer player and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion (2015). She is a six times winner of the US Soccer Athlete of the Year award, and hold the record as the highest-scoring US soccer player for the national team (male or female).
She announced her retirement from competition last October.
Mattel revealed its Wambach doll yesterday at the annual Makers Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California – a gathering of influential business people and non-profits to discuss women and leadership.
— UN Women (@UN_Women) February 3, 2016
Wambach herself took the stage to say a few words after the doll was unveiled by a Mattel representative.
‘Playing with Barbies that may or may not have looked like I felt growing up, I thank that this is a really impactful statement…. It just proves that we really are getting somewhere,’ she said.
‘If you’re out there and maybe your doll doesn’t look exactly like you feel, here’s another option.’
She went on to joke, ‘I’m gonna have to go on a run, because she looks a little bit svelte.’
A photo posted by MAKERS (@makerswomen) on
The doll features Wambach’s distinctive cropped sidecut and a Nike kit – the same she wore at the 2015 Women’s Soccer World Cup. It also has moveable, articulate limbs – all the better for adopting the poses of a star striker.
Although there was previously a limited-edition Rosie O’Donnell doll at the height of that star’s talk show fame, that mannequin was produced before O’Donnell came out, meaning this is the first time Mattel have made a doll of an openly gay person.
Wambach married her longterm partner, Sarah Huffman, in a ceremony in Hawaii in 2013.
Mattel scored 100 on the most recent Corporate Equality Index report released by Human Rights Campaign – a ranking of corporations based on their LGBT-inclusiveness.
A video posted by MAKERS (@makerswomen) on
The doll was welcomed by Lucy Caldicott, interim CEO of Diversity Role Models – a charity that takes LGBT role models into UK schools to talk to pupils.
‘Just as there is diversity in people, it is great to see more diversity in the dolls that children play with,’ she said to Gay Star Business. ‘Young women who play football are often teased for not conforming to gender expectations. Abby Wambach is a fantastic role model for them. It’s wonderful to see her honoured with her very own Barbie doll.’