She’s conquered the silver screen. Now Barbie’s new career has more in common with Messi

Margot Robbie poses for the media prior to a news conference of the movie "Barbie." in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, July 3, 2023. The film is to be released in the country on July 19. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)(AP/Lee Jin-man)
New York (CNN) — Barbie isn’t one to rest on her laurels. She’s conquered the box office over the summer, breaking numerous records and turning the “Barbie” movie into a $1 billion global sensation.

“Barbie” was distributed by Warner Bros., which is owned by CNN’s parent company Warner Bros. Discovery.

Now, Barbie tackles a career path meant to showcase women at their active best. Mattel, on Wednesday, unveiled Barbie Women in Sports, its 2023 Barbie Career of the Year-themed dolls.

“This year, knowing that women are severely underrepresented in the sports industry – from positions on the field to leadership in the locker room – Barbie is proud to introduce the Women in Sports lineup as the 2023 Career of the Year,” Mattel said in a release.

The new dolls are dressed to represent four sports-related careers and, more broadly, to encourage girls to pursue involvement in sports which can help develop life skills and raise confidence, the company said.

Among the new dolls are General Manager Barbie. She means business in her blue-and-white pinstripe power suit, black loafers, smartphone and ID badge.

Coach Barbie is clad in pink, of course — and a color being popularized in men’s soccer lately courtesy of soccer superstar Lionel Messi’s pink Adidas jersey with his new club, Inter Miami. Coach Barbie wears a white Barbie jacket with matching athletic shorts, a pink headband, playbook, and a pink megaphone.

Referee Barbie dons a black-and white-striped referee shirt and black leggings, equipped with a headset, yellow flag and silver whistle. Sports Reporter Barbie wears a patterned purple dress with black heels and carries a pink Barbie notebook and microphone.

Also, Mattel has partnered with Voice In Sport, an advocacy organization, to hold virtual mentoring session on Sept. 12 to inspire girls and women to be involved in sports or sports careers. Mattel said the session will feature Jen Welter, the first female coach in the NFL with the Arizona Cardinals.

Mattel said it hopes to have Barbie take on culturally relevant and aspirational roles in fields where women are underrepresented. This push forward signals an ongoing effort by Mattel to embrace a more inclusive approach to its iconic 64-year-old Barbie brand. The company has long faced criticism for giving girls a role model of a female body type with unrealistic proportions.

For decades after their debut in 1959, Barbie dolls continued to be light-skinned — white — slender, blonde, with a very narrow waist, ample bosom and always teetering on impossibly high heels.

Finally, in 2016, as it faced softening sales of the doll, Mattel crafted Barbie into a more realistic depiction by making the newer dolls more inclusive and diverse in their appearance. Barbie was reintroduced in four body types and seven skin tones, with 22 eye colors and 24 hairstyles. Her evolution continues with Barbie Fashionistas, which came three years later.

Earlier this year, Mattel introduced its first-ever version of the Barbie doll representing a person with Down syndrome.

It remains to be seen if the “Barbie” movie and Mattel’s continued evolution of the doll’s representation will have a sustained effect on toy sales. In its most recent quarter, Mattel reported a decline in worldwide gross billings — the total amount invoiced to customers — for its Barbie brand in the first six months of the year. The ‘Barbie’ movie opened July 21.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

This content was republished with permission from CNN.

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