Critics Slam Mattel Olympics Barbie Collection for Lacking Asian Representation

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In the wake of Mattel launching a collection of Barbies dedicated to the Summer Games in Tokyo, Japan, this summer, many critics are speaking out at the brand failing to include an Asian doll.

Last year, the toy company announced that they'd be collaborating with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 organizers to unveil a line of dolls in February 2020 custom made for the Games. 

"This international product line, rolling out this spring, highlights inclusivity and innovation, with toys reflecting the five new sports added to the Olympic program in Tokyo – baseball/softball, sport climbing, karate, skateboarding and surfing – all to inspire a new generation of athletes and fans around the world," reads a press release from Mattel of the announcement.

Notably, the dolls included in the collection appear to be white and Black. In response to the dolls not incorporating Asian representation, many have noted that the exclusion comes amid the Olympics taking place in an Asian country this year and in the wake of both Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month in May and the many attacks on Asian people during the coronavirus pandemic.

"Seriously? APAHM was just in May and #antiAsianHate is still ongoing and with Sunisa Lee winning Gymnastic Gold, there isn't an obvious Asian American Barbie Olympian? Do Better," wrote critic Vincent Yee on Twitter.

"Major failure! Where is the doll that looks Asian? Especially Olympic 2020 is taking place in Japan which is an Asian country. @Mattel this is a disaster, whether it’s accidental or intentional," wrote another critic.

Other critics even called the exclusion "racist,"  with one person saying: "So disappointing that by trying to be inclusive you exclude almost 60 percent of the world's population as well as that of the host country. Many of the top female athletes in the Olympics are Asian. This was not an oversight but blatant racism."

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Written By

Rose Low

Rose Low is a writer based in New York, with a background in social media strategy and reporting. She has a Masters from NYU and a love for romantic comedies. See Full Bio

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