Mattel Admits They 'Fell Short' With Olympic Barbies After Backlash For Failing To Include An Asian Doll
Mattel, the brand who created the iconic Barbie doll, just launched a line of Barbies meant to showcase "inclusivity and innovation" but has admitted to falling short due to their lack of Asian dolls in the collection.
The company teamed with the International Olympic Committee to produce a line of dolls, Hot Wheels cars and limited edition UNO decks based on the addition of five sports in the Tokyo 2020 games which included baseball/softball, sport climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing.
#Barbie is committed to empowering girls to participate in sports by capturing the fun and friendship of the season… https://t.co/cZ5CPfb3ss— Barbie (@Barbie) 1627493686.0
Janet Hsu, Chief Franchise Officer of Mattel, said in their launch statement:
"Tokyo 2020 is a monumental event that brings the world together through sport and inspires fans of all ages."
"The Mattel Tokyo 2020 Collection honours these sports and inspires a new generation through the Olympic spirit and outstanding athletic tradition."
Twitter was quick to catch on to their lack of Asian Barbie dolls, which is ironic given the fact the games were hosted in Tokyo, Japan.
While some tried to claim the skateboarding Barbie was Asian due to slightly different eye shape, actual Asians disagreed.
@SylviaNgSocial @Barbie are you blind? https://t.co/eHs7iJtkAP— Rich Timothy "Long Tim" Yolonsky (R.T.Y.) (@Rich Timothy "Long Tim" Yolonsky (R.T.Y.)) 1628533973.0
@MisterRahool @SylviaNgSocial @Barbie Are you seriously telling us how we look like? Have you looked at an Asian before?— Worldcitizen (@Worldcitizen) 1628708119.0
.@Mattel: promotes “most diverse line yet” in Olympic collection Also Mattel: neglects to include Asian Barbie doll… https://t.co/I8GPraTyJT— Phil Mok 목용수 (@Phil Mok 목용수 ) 1628284118.0
The brand said they "will work to find more ways to champion all representation" since the backlash.
@Barbie WHERE IS THE ASIAN BARBIE?!! SHAME ON YOU!! ITS TOKYO for heavens sake!!!— jules (@jules) 1628225923.0
@SterlingMomo @Barbie that's vert @Mattel 's diversity 😂😂😂 https://t.co/LXuaY64bZQ— Raccoon Nextdoor (@Raccoon Nextdoor) 1628380755.0
@Barbie It’s beyond imagination that while more than 50% of world population is Asians and Olympics 2020 was hosted… https://t.co/UdfRtzufnA— Phat Nguyen (@Phat Nguyen) 1628707342.0
Many also pointed out the enormous amount of Asian hate that's increased during the pandemic.
Many athletes shared how anti-Asian hate has effected them going into the Olympics.
It’s so fun to see white Barbie in a karate uniform. Take our culture, nod to Tokyo hosting the Olympics but say he… https://t.co/EqdZiO1aPN— KAT KIM (@KAT KIM) 1628311295.0
Here we go again. Lack of Asian representation from a global brand @Barbie. You would think that there was someone… https://t.co/KMT3JdXJMZ— Julie Kim (@Julie Kim) 1628343660.0
@Barbie Seriously? APAHM was just in May and #antiAsianHate is still ongoing and with Sunisa Lee winning Gymnastic… https://t.co/mKboxVZVQy— Vincent Yee (@Vincent Yee) 1627775066.0
@CNN It’s not difficult to produce inclusive products if you have diverse leadership. Seems that’s missing at Mattel.— Jo Holmes (@Jo Holmes) 1628643449.0
Mattel's spokesperson gave a statement to HuffPost.
"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."
"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."
@CNN It would be more accurate to note that the "skateboarding doll was meant to represent the Asian American commu… https://t.co/bsMKRAGfli— David Pittelli (@David Pittelli) 1628727191.0
Many also pointed out the historic win of Hmong American athlete Sunisa Lee who won gold in the women's gymnastics individual all-around.
Mattel admitted they needed to do better. Hopefully they'll consult members of the communities they hope to represent when making future design decisions.