In a bid to inspire children to be anything they want to be, Mattel recently released a new line of dolls modeled after six COVID-19 frontline workers from around the world. The toy brand has an impressive collection of female hero dolls, including Barbies that represent the likeness of Maya Angelou, Susan B. Anthony, and Naomi Osaka. However, Mattel’s latest one-of-a-kind dolls spotlight the lesser-known heroes of the pandemic, from doctors and nurses to researchers and vaccine developers.
The women honored with a custom doll include Amy O’Sullivan, an emergency room nurse who treated the first COVID-19 patient in Brooklyn at the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center. There’s also a doll representing Dr. Audrey Sue Cruz, a frontline worker from Las Vegas who—along with other Asian American physicians—fought against racial discrimination during the pandemic. “With this honor, I hope to shine a light on the commitment and compassion all frontline workers exhibited over the past year and a half and every single day,” Cruz wrote on Instagram, along with a photo of her doll. “I hope to represent minorities in America and encourage cultural advocacy.”
Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa is also honored with her own Barbie doll. She is a psychiatry resident at the University of Toronto who also advocated against systemic racism in healthcare. Mattel also created a doll based on Professor Sarah Gilbert, who led the development of the University of Oxford vaccine in the United Kingdom. And the collection also includes a Barbie that represents Australia-based General Practitioner Dr. Kirby White. She co-founded the Gowns for Doctors initiative, helping to supply 750 regional Victoria-based GP clinics with a newly designed PPE gown that could be laundered and re-used.
“Barbie recognizes that all frontline workers have made tremendous sacrifices when confronting the pandemic and the challenges it heightened,” says Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel. “To shine a light on their efforts, we are sharing their stories and leveraging Barbie’s platform to inspire the next generation to take after these heroes and give back. Our hope is to nurture and ignite the imaginations of children playing out their own storyline as heroes.”
The six dolls are part of Mattel’s #ThankYouHeroes program, an initiative launched last year as part of the company’s broader “Play it Forward” platform. This platform focuses on giving back to communities in times of need. With every Barbie doctor, nurse, and paramedic doll sold at Target, Mattel will donate $5 to the First Responders Children’s Foundation.
Check out the frontline worker Barbie dolls below.