Mattel Unveils New Presidential Barbies to Inspire Girls to Run for Public Office
By Samantha Wood
For the first time, Barbie has her sights set on the presidency with a female running mate by her side.
Mattel created the President and VP Barbie in partnership with She Should Run, a non-partisan organization that works to make the case for women’s representation and inspire women and girls to run for roles of public leadership.
“By introducing the new President and Vice President Barbie dolls, the first all-female ticket, we hope to inspire girls to imagine themselves as leaders,” Erin Loos Cutraro, co-founder and CEO of She Should Run, tells Babble.
The new President and Vice President Barbie are sold as a set of two in four different combinations of body types (retailing at $24.99). The doll wearing a red and white jacket and blue skirt is intended to be President Barbie, while VP Barbie wears a yellow peplum jacket, black pants, and black eyeglasses, however I’m sure kids will put their own spin on the roles when playing (White) House.
Cutraro says that by creating these dolls for girls to play with at a young age, they hope to help inspire our daughters for the future.
“She Should Run inspires girls and women to envision themselves in public office, and what a better way to start than in everyday play. Our play reflects our culture in that moment in time and the more girls ‘play’ being President, the more obvious it will be to them that they can actually aspire to that role and so many others.”
Mattel and She Should Run also created downloadable worksheets to accompany the President and VP Barbie, encouraging girls to think about what they would do if they were President and the type of leader they’d like to be.
The sheets also include a word search with examples of “leaders in your neighborhood” (i.e. coaches and teachers), along with a maze to “help Barbie get to the White House” and a space to “draw yourself as a leader.”
It can’t be overlooked that this President and VP Barbie are being released at a time when the U.S. currently has a female presumptive nominee for President in the 2016 election.
“Whenever we see a woman step up and run for office, especially one as dynamic and qualified as Hillary Clinton, it is exciting and encouraging,” Cutraro tells Babble. “Additionally, her campaign enables other women to envision themselves in office. […] It has never been about one woman, and one seat. It is about more role models who can be able to show girls that it is a possibility.”
This isn’t the first time Barbie has been the leader of the free world. In fact, The Washington Post looked at how Barbie’s presidential campaigns have developed almost every election year since 1992 (only sitting out in 1996).
One of the most notable presidential Barbie looks was in 2012, when the outfit included wedge heels that literally (and symbolically?) allowed her to stand on her own two feet for the first time. This installment was also the first time that presidential Barbie was not sold with an evening gown for her to change into.
Earlier this year the Barbie brand expanded its “Fashionista” doll line by including more diversity in the body types — a move that even landed her on the cover of TIME magazine. The dolls now come in tall, curvy, or petite; seven skin tones; 22 eye colors; and 24 hairstyles. Barbie’s career choices have also expanded, including the recent game developer Barbie, as well as film director, pet vet, nurse, pilot, firefighter, eye doctor, chef, and more.
Mattel’s marketing campaign for Barbie revolves around these new careers for the doll in an effort to show girls that “You Can Be Anything” and to rebrand the doll to be focused on more than just glamour and fashion (although she still looks polished and fierce, of course).
While President and VP Barbie are the only public official roles for Barbie so far, Cutraro made a point to note that there are a lot more jobs and elected offices that Barbie and all women should aim for.
“There are 500,000 other elected offices across the country and we need to be grooming more women to run for them. It’s not just about the presidency, it’s about offices at all levels of government that would benefit from the ideas and perspectives of women. So with that, we would love to see careers like Mayor Barbie, City Council Member Barbie, or even Town Sheriff Barbie.”
Along with the obvious suggestion to buy the prez and VP Barbie dolls for your daughter and use the worksheets, Cutraro offers more ways that parents can empower our girls.
“Ask your daughter, niece, or favorite young girl what they want to change about the world and then encourage them to be that change, and talk to them about the difference leaders can and do make in your community. Teach a girl the power of her voice. Because you could be the spark that ignites a girl’s passion for public service.”