Ashley Graham is one of the most prominent plus-size models in the industry — maybe the most. She’s landed coveted campaigns like the SI cover spread, launched her own clothing line, and continuously acts as a vocal advocate for body awareness and acceptance. Graham has even more to celebrate, as Barbie just honored the model by creating a new doll in her likeness, which was unveiled at the 2016 Glamour Woman of the Year Live summit in Los Angeles.
The new doll not only shows how much of an impact Graham and other plus-size models have made on society, but it also signifies Barbie’s effort to incorporate all body types in its line of products.
“Ashley Graham is a trailblazer who inspires every woman — and girl — to see the beauty in herself,” said Lisa McKnight, general manager of Barbie, in a press release. “This year Barbie has evolved to be more inclusive by adding three new body shapes into the line and we hope our relationship with Ashley will further make an impact.”
The company apparently approached Graham after seeing an interview in which she expressed her approval of the company’s introduction of new body types, including curvy, tall, and petite, earlier this year.
When designing the doll, Graham not only had creative control over the outfit in which the figurine was adorned — a look the model’s worn in the past featuring a sparkly Opening Ceremony dress, a Sonia Rykiel cropped jean jacket, and spiky Pierre Hardy boots — but she also weighed in on the physical attributes of the doll. “She had to have her thighs touch. No ands, ifs or buts about it. And I asked for cellulite but obviously plastic and cellulite don’t go hand in hand,” she told the Hollywood Reporter.
“It was important that the Barbie resembled me as much as possible. The thighs touching were one way to show young girls that it’s OK for your thighs to touch, despite society saying that a ‘thigh gap’ is more beautiful.”
The doll is the latest in Barbie’s collection of Sheroes — a line created to honor female heroes that inspire and empower others. A number of other notable figures, including Zendaya, Gabby Douglas, Eva Chen, and Misty Copeland, have had dolls created in their likeness for the collection.
Graham hopes this doll will help expose little girls to more than just one ‘perfect’ body type and instill acceptance within them at a young age. “Would I have looked at my body differently if I were playing with Barbies that looked like me? Would I have accepted my thighs and my round arms and my round stomach a little bit more? Probably,” she told THR on how a plus-size doll could have impacted her growing up. “I think it’s absolutely incredible that an iconic image in the fashion world, like Barbie, is keeping up with the times and following along with body diversity in such a big way.”
The model was clearly pleased with the result, as she proudly showed off her new doll in a video on her Instagram page.