Anything Ken can do, Barbie and her BFF can do better.
President Barbie, who was introduced in 2000 — presidential candidate versions were released in 1992, 2004, 2008, and 2012 — is back on shelves four months before the election, the first in the history of the U.S. when a woman could actually win. And while the Mattel toy has reached the highest office before, she’ll be doing so with a female vice president by her side. On Wednesday, the company introduced the political duo to inspire girls to become leaders in fields underrepresented by women.
The El Segundo, Calif.-based corporation said in a statement that the new dolls are part of the brand’s careers line, which the company hopes will expose the young generation to empowered roles and diverse and powerful job options. “With just 39 percent of girls saying that they want to be a leader, President and Vice President Barbie will serve as an inspiration for girls to pursue their dreams and imagine what they can become,” Mattel said.
For the project, Mattel partnered with She Should Run, a nonpartisan national network committed to the advancement of women and girls and expanding the talent pool of future elected female leaders. The network’s CEO, Erin Loos Cutraro, says that while most young girls today believe they have limitless potential, the adults shaping their lives have a responsibility to help them envision those dreams. “We simply cannot afford to give girls the impression that political elections don’t matter, and we certainly don’t want to instill the idea that they — whether individually or as a group — have no power to make things better,” she wrote in Fortune. “But we have our work cut out for us.”
The set of dolls retails for $24.99 and will roll out nationwide in stores and online this month. They’ll also be available in a variety of shapes and sizes as well as skin tones as part of the company’s larger effort to revamp Barbie’s image.
— Barbie (@Barbie) July 13, 2016
In January, Mattel released tall, curvy, and petite dolls with seven different skin tones, 22 eye colors, and 24 hairstyles and hair colors to choose from. The Sheroes program, which honors “female heroes who inspire girls by breaking boundaries and expanding possibilities for women everywhere,” has introduced girls to role models who include Gabby Douglas, Misty Copeland, Ava Duvernay, Eva Chen, Zendaya, and more. In addition to fashionista Barbies, the latest #YouCanBeAnything collection also has a Spy Squad and game developer.
A 2016 Hillary Clinton and Elizabeth Warren ticket might not be likely, but at least the new Barbies offer young girls the tools to help them envision it for the future. “We see this doll set as a timely and topical platform to further the conversation around female leadership,” Mattel General Manager and Senior Vice President Lisa McKnight said. “We are proud to partner with She Should Run to help elevate its message and show girls that they can be and do anything.”