Mattel addresses backlash over Olympics Barbies: Dolls 'fell short' in representing Asians

  • 21 Aug - 27 Aug, 2021
  • Mag The Weekly
  • Mag Files

Amid backlash and claims that its Tokyo 2020 Barbie collection did not have Asian American representation, Mattel is admitting that it "fell short" in its attempts to represent the community. While Asian American athletes like Suni Lee stole the show at the Tokyo Summer Olympics, viewers at home were left upset over the fact that the line of five Olympic athlete Barbies did not appear to include a doll of Asian descent. In a statement to PEOPLE, a spokesperson for Mattel acknowledges the criticism, and says that the skateboarder doll – which has reddish, light brown hair – was meant to represent the Asian community, but missed the mark. The statement adds that moving forward, Mattel "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." The collection of dolls was first introduced in February 2020, and included figurines representing five sports new to the Olympic games: surfing, sport climbing, skateboarding, softball and karate. But after Barbie tweeted photos of the collection in late July, backlash was swift. Although, Barbie has made likenesses of famous Asian athletes in the past, including gold medal snowboarder Chloe Kim and tennis star Naomi Osaka.