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Mattel’s New Barbies Honor Women in Healthcare Fighting COVID-19

Life in plastic, it's fantastic.

New Barbies honor six women in health care who have been on the front lines in the fight against COVID-19.

Barbie has held many careers throughout the years: paratrooper, aerobics instructor, NASCAR driver. But her latest gig might be her most important of all, as a healthcare worker tirelessly fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mattel INC has released six new Barbie dolls which honor the real-life heroines of the pandemic. The line-up includes women who have made a difference from across the globe:

Amy O’Sullivan, RN (U.S.) – an emergency room nurse who treated the first COVID-19 patient in Brooklyn at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center, became ill and was intubated, then a few weeks later returned to work to continue taking care of others.

Dr. Audrey Cruz (U.S.) – a frontline worker from Las Vegas, who during the pandemic, joined forces with other Asian-American physicians to fight racial bias and discrimination.

Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa (Canada) – a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto, Ontario, who has advocated against systemic racism in healthcare, which has been further highlighted by the pandemic.

Professor Sarah Gilbert (U.K) – a professor of vaccinology who led the development of the University of Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.

Dr. Jaqueline Goes de Jesus (Brazil) – a biomedical researcher credited for leading the sequencing of the genome of a COVID-19 variant in Brazil.

Dr. Kirby White (Australia) – a general practitioner who co-founded Gowns for Doctors, a gown that could be laundered and re-used, allowing frontline workers in Victoria, AU to continue seeing patients during the pandemic.

Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls at Mattel, said: “Barbie recognizes that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened … To shine a light on their efforts, we are sharing their stories … to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back.”

Vaccinology professor Gilbert, who has frequently been in the news, has since been given a damehood, and received a standing ovation at Wimbledon. Gilbert called the doll made in her honor “very strange,” but hopes it encourages girls to pursue careers in STEM.

Gilbert told The Guardian, “I am passionate about inspiring the next generation of girls into Stem careers and hope that children who see my Barbie will realise how vital careers in science are to help the world around us … My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist.”

Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa told the CBC, “What is even more beautiful about this opportunity is that the Barbie is a Black female doctor that is made in my image … That really speaks to my core value and my core belief that you can truly become anything and you can truly occupy any space and thrive.”

The dolls are part of Mattel’s Thank You Heroes line, and unfortunately won’t be made available for purchase. However, Mattel announced that they will be donating $5 for each eligible doctor, nurse and paramedic doll sold at Target during the month of August to the First Responders Children’s Foundation (FRCF), benefiting the children of first responders.

(via NPR, image: Mattel Inc)

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Chelsea was born and raised in New Orleans, which explains her affinity for cheesy grits and Britney Spears. She currently lives in sunny Los Angeles, with her husband, son, and one poorly behaved rescue dog. She is a former roller derby girl and a black belt in Judo, so she is not to be trifled with. She loves the word “Jewess” and wishes more people used it to describe her.