Barbie apologises for 'falling short' in Asian representation for Olympics doll line

Barbie's parent company, Mattel, has apologised for "falling short" in Asian representation for its latest Olympics doll collection. The company was recently criticised online for not including an Asian Barbie doll in its lineup. However, Mattel explained that its skateboarding doll was meant to be a representation of the Asian American community, NBC News said, but netizens said the Barbie doll does not look Asian.

Barbie tweeted an image of the dolls on 29 July and said it is committed to empowering girls to participate in sports by capturing the fun and friendship of the season. Since then, the brand has received several criticisms about the lack of Asian representation. Most were disappointed with Mattel excluding an Asian Barbie when the Olympics were held in Tokyo and questioned the company's inclusiveness. Some also pointed out how Mattel had room for two blonde Barbie dolls but none for an Asian one.

Another netizen commented that since Asia is a huge region, Barbie should have also included Southeast, Central, and West Asia, as well as representation from Latin America, Polynesia, Native Americans, and Micronesia. Some Twitter users also highlighted the achievements of Asian female Olympians including gymnast Sunisa Lee, who was the first Asian American to clinch the gold medal in the gymnastics individual all-around.

Meanwhile, a handful of netizens defended Barbie, sharing images of a brown-haired Barbie with dark almond eyes and pointing out that this particular doll was meant to represent Asians. Another said those asking where the Asian Barbie is need to reconsider their "preconceived notion of Asian" as not every Asian will have black hair and small dark eyes.

The dolls were first unveiled last February alongside other products from Hot Wheels and UNO. According to Mattel, the toys aimed to highlight "inclusivity and innovation" and reflect the five new sports added to the Olympic programme in Tokyo - baseball/softball, sport climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing. Mattel said moving forward, it will find more ways to champion all representation and celebrate the achievements of Olympic athletes, NBC News reported. That said, Mattel previously created Barbie dolls to celebrate Asian athletes, such as snowboarder Chloe Kim and tennis player Naomi Osaka. MARKETING-INTERACTIVE has reached out to Mattel for comment.

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