Super happy that four Asian women were included as part of Mattel’s new line of Inspiring Women Barbie dolls. More than half of the 19 dolls total were women of colour (12 total). Volleyball champion Hui Ruoqi is personally one of my heroes for her performance in Rio 2016 leading the very young Chinese women’s volleyball team to Gold when they weren’t expected to even medal.
I also totally understand the controversy over the Frida Kahlo doll not representing her likeness properly and without consent from her family. I also get that a lot of these dolls are too slim too represent realistic figures. These are huge, important issues that I hope cause enough of an online uproar to get Mattel to do better in the future.
Despite those issues, it still makes me incredibly happy to see Asian heroes being represented in media, and I hope this is a step in the right direction. Hopefully the next generation of Asians growing up in North America can see more heroes who look like themselves. I also like that their Asian features show through such as bone structure, eyes, nose etc. and the dolls aren’t just carbon copies of the traditional white Barbies.
Hui Ruoqi, Volleyball Champion
Hui Ruoqi is definitely the doll I want the most. The way she played in Rio will inspire future volleyball players for generations to come. The doll does a good job of capturing her facial structure, though the jersey itself doesn’t look too realistic likely due to licensing issues. Like most of these dolls, the arms are far too thin along with the overall figure. It’s especially bad here since Hui Ruoqi is an athlete but her doll doesn’t show much of an athletic body type at all.
Yuan Yuan Tan, Ballerina
Yuan Yuan Tan is Principal Dancer at San Francisco Ballet and Guest Principal Dancer at Hong Kong Ballet. The doll does its best but her facial features are definitely softer in real life while more exaggerated in doll form. Those arms, though, are distractingly thing. Ballerinas are already so thin, wonder why Mattel felt the need to make her arms even thinner in the doll.
Chloe Kim, Snowboarding Champion
Chloe Kim won hearts and minds of Americans with her performance and personality during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Not a bad likeness at all for her doll. It’s great that they have her covered head to toe which is representative of someone participating in a winter sport.
Xiaotong Guan, Actress
Glad to see a Chinese actress being represented here, as Chinese cinema is a huge business across all of Asia. Until North America does a better job of representing Asian characters and not just whitewashing them by having Scarlett Johansson insultingly play a Japanese woman (trapped in the body of an ethnically white Android?!?) this will have to do. The doll itself doesn’t really look much like her unfortunately. Definitely the most white-looking doll of the bunch.