We may still be speculating about who presidential candidate Joe Biden will ultimately pick for his running mate, but Mattel’s latest release already has our vote. On Tuesday, the beloved toy brand announced its Campaign Team Set, created “to expose girls to public leadership roles and pique their interest in shaping the future,” according to a release shared with The Glow Up.
Barbie has some excellent campaign advisers for 2020, teaming up with longtime partner She Should Run, a nonpartisan nonprofit providing “guidance and support to women considering a run for office.” The new collection of Barbies includes not only the candidate (an unambiguously Black doll), but three female counterparts: campaign manager, fundraiser and voter. All are vital to any electoral process and are collectively intended “to show girls the importance of a political team working together to win,” says Mattel, which also explained the very deliberate casting of their candidate and cohorts, telling The Glow Up:
“[T]he brand made the political candidate Black because there are fewer Black female elected officials and fewer Black women exploring a path to political leadership. Of the 127 women serving in the 116th Congress, 22 are Black and of the 90 women serving in statewide elective executive offices, only 5 are Black. Additionally, since voter turnout for Latinos lags around 20 percent behind that of white and Black voters, Barbie designed the voter doll to highlight this underrepresentation for girls.”
We already know the power of the Black female vote, but when it comes to Black women running for elected office, those numbers are thankfully swiftly improving. After a record number of female candidates running—and winning—during the midterm elections in 2018, a report released on Monday showed that Black women are throwing their hats in the congressional ring in record numbers in 2020, showing little Black girls everywhere what is possible.
Of course, this isn’t Barbie’s first run for office since her birth in 1959. “With seven runs for office since 1992, Barbie has a long history of showing girls they can and should be in office,” says the brand. “Ahead of the 2020 election, the brand is launching this new doll set alongside a full marketing program aimed at the next generation of leaders by highlighting the importance of voting and taking a stand and showing girls how to run a campaign.”
In fact, the Campaign Team set is the latest effort in the Barbie Dream Gap Project, which aims to mitigate self-limiting beliefs in young girls.
“Since 1959, Barbie has championed girls and encouraged them to be leaders whether in the classroom, community or someday, of the country,” said Mattel’s SVP and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, Lisa McKnight. “With less than a third of elected leaders in the U.S. being women, and Black women being even less represented in these positions, we designed the Barbie Campaign Team with a diverse set of dolls to show all girls they can raise their voices. Our goal is to remove barriers to leadership by giving girls the tools to imagine and play out their future roles.”
If you’re wondering just how inspired a child can be while playing with dolls, chances are, you never played with Barbies—but to make it a truly comprehensive and well-rounded learning experience, the Campaign Team Set “includes educational resources, including play ballots and printable activities, prompts for girls to write their own campaign speeches and more.” All will be available via the Campaign Team page at Barbie.com as well as a new “Ask Barbie” video on Barbie’s YouTube channel (because you know one of the original beauty influencers has to have her own channel).
And because political engagement and ambition aren’t a game, the Barbie Dream Gap Project has also donated funds to She Should Run, with a portion of resources specifically dedicated to Help Her Lead, “a course designed to support young girls, particularly girls of color, in their pathway to political leadership by giving adult role models the resources and guidance to engage and inspire them early in life” through intentional conversations, fundraising, volunteer efforts and leadership activities.
“With the upcoming elections and the current push for equality and representation, 2020 is an incredible time for us to inspire young women and girls to lead,” said Erin Loos Cutraro, founder and CEO of She Should Run. “Understanding the role we play in empowering our daughters is the first step—we have to have healthy conversations at home and encourage curiosity. By getting them excited today, we’re giving them the confidence to raise their voices and run for office tomorrow.”
The Barbie Campaign Team is sold as a set for $39.99 and is available from major online retailers now.
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