Entrepreneur Barbie leans into a new career

Story highlights

  • Mattel says it hopes to inspire female entrepreneurs with new Barbie
  • Entrepreneur Barbie partners with eight real-life female entrepreneurs
  • Some criticized Mattel for suiting up Entrepreneur Barbie in a pink dress and her usual proportions

Barbie boasts an extensive resume of more than 150 careers, from fashion model to nurse, astronaut, veterinarian, firefighter, aerobics instructor and rapper.

Now, Barbie is leaning in with a 21st century gig as an entrepreneur.

Entrepreneur Barbie is available in four ethnicities and carries the essentials of start-up life: a tablet, smartphone and briefcase.

Mattel says it hopes to inspire a generation of female entrepreneurs with Entrepreneur Barbie, which went on sale Thursday on Amazon. She also comes with a marketing back story in which Mattel partnered with eight real-life female entrepreneurs to serve as "chief inspiration officers."

"Having positive role models for dolls that are inspiring young girls to be entrepreneurs is exactly what we need to inspire a generation of young women to start running businesses," Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, said in an interview with TechCrunch. "You can't be what you cannot see."

"To me, Barbie has always been a way to live out each and every one of my dreams and that young women today have Barbie as a role model, an icon in the form of an entrepreneur is so exciting and the best form of inspiration," said Jennifer Fleiss, co-founder of Rent the Runway.

In typical start-up style, Entrepreneur Barbie made her debut by hosting a Twitter #BarbieChat in which she invited her #CIOs to share stories of "breaking glass (and plastic) ceilings."

While many participants in Wednesday's Twitter chat praised Barbie's latest career, Mattel faced familiar criticism for pink-washing the message. Entrepreneur Barbie comes wearing a fitted pink dress in her usual unrealistic proportions.

"If we're talking representation, let's take a step back. It is impossible to ever grow up and be Barbie. She's anatomically impossible (unless you get tons of plastic surgery and survive on light and air)," writer Sarah Gray said in a Salon column.

"Entrepreneur Barbie is modern woman with her smartphone and her tablet stuck in a sexist, outdated, dangerous representation of femininity. I take umbrage with the fact that, even though this doll is backed by an awesome group of diverse women — aimed at providing positive representation — Barbie still represents this problematic view of women."

The backlash is nothing new. Barbie caused a stir in February when Mattel and Sports Illustrated revealed that she would appear in the 50th anniversary edition of its annual swimsuit edition. The partnership included a promotional cover-wrap on 1,000 copies declaring Barbie "the doll that started it all," a four-page advertising feature inside the magazine and video outtakes posted online. The doll was also available for sale at Target.

Mattel stood by Barbie's "unapologetic" stance, and continues to use the #unapologetic hashtag in its social media campaigns for Entrepreneur Barbie.

Do you think Entrepreneur Barbie is a suitable role model for children? Share your take, and your favorite iteration of Barbie, in the comments section below.

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