There is no Asian in “Team Barbie” in Tokyo 2020. Mattel ends up in a storm, which of the five dolls made for the Olympics did not even think of one with Asian features. The toy company, second only to Lego in terms of sales, has teamed up with the International Olympic Committee (CIO) and the Tokyo 2020 organizers to create the dolls. Each represents the five new sports included in this year’s Olympic program: baseball/softball, athletic climbing, karate, skateboarding, and windsurfing.
“Tokyo 2020 is a mega event that unites the world through sport and inspires fans of all ages,” Janet Hsu, Mattel’s Chief Franchise Officer, wrote in a press release. “The Mattel Tokyo 2020 Collection honors these sports and inspires a new generation through Olympic spirit and exceptional sporting heritage,” he added. But social media has noted the absence of an Asian Barbie, although El Segundo has spoken of trying to promote “innovation and inclusion”. Numerous protests on Twitter and Instagram, where disappointment was expressed.
“I wouldn’t buy Barbie dolls for my two little girls. Nothing,” tweeted Mai Cheung, Michigan county commissioner, who immigrated to the United States as a Hmong refugee at the age of three. Many also wondered how Mattel could forget an Asian Barbie with the games hosted by Tokyo. “Mattel makes Asian Americans invisible while announcing its “most diverse line of dolls ever,” highlighting an Asian country with Barbie in a Japanese karate outfit, and marking each doll as a “Tokyo official,” tweeted Japanese-American artist Drew Kataoka.
Weeks before the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, Mattel released a Barbie modeled on Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka as part of its “Role Example” series. The doll sold out a few hours after it was put up for sale.
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