When Chloe Kim became the youngest woman to win a snowboarding gold medal at this year’s Olympics, she became a role model to kids throughout the world.
And starting today, children can play with a Barbie doll built to imitate the athlete, complete with snowboarding gear and a smile celebrating her gold medal win.
The doll is part of the company’s Shero program, first introduced in 2015 and designed to “make a line that is reflective of kids today,” according to Michelle Chidoni, vice president of global brand communications at Mattel, the company that manufactures Barbie.
In honor of International Women’s Day, the line is expanding to welcome 14 new dolls who hail from 11 different countries.
Among the new additions are Kim; Patty Jenkins, director of “Wonder Woman,” and the highest-paid female director ever; Nicola Adams, the first woman to win an Olympic boxing title; and Bindi Irwin, international wildlife conservationist.
Barbie also introduced a new “Inspiring Women” line, which will honor historical figures. The first three dolls in the series will be Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic ocean; celebrated artist and activist Frida Kahlo; and Katherine Johnson, a pioneer in mathematics whose contributions to NASA were highlighted in the film “Hidden Figures.”
“Barbie is a powerful role model,” says Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and general manager of Barbie. “Girls have the opportunity to imagine themselves in different stories. With this program, we can expose them to real women who are breaking barriers all around the world.”
Olympian Ibtihaj Muhammad understands the power of representation in play. When she was a young girl, her mother only allowed dolls with brown skin into the house.
“I had a really hard time finding dolls that represented me in that way and looked like me,” she says.
Muhammad, who is no stranger to breaking barriers — she was the first American athlete to wear a hijab at the Olympic Games and the first Muslim American woman to win an Olympic medal — inspired Barbie’s first-ever hijab-wearing Barbie last year.
She says doll play was central to her childhood and the additions to the line expand the imaginations of children who play with Barbie. Equally important, they represent diversity of all kinds.
“Countless young girls will play with these dolls, will walk down aisles and see all of these options,” she says. “They will be inspired to find themselves and encouraged to see themselves in any space they can imagine.”