As a child, I still remember how excited I got for my birthday because every year, I would add to my Barbie collection. I had a dollhouse and had ghar ghar parties with my dolls for hours. I would brush their hair, settle their clothes, change their outfits and make them get married to Ken time and again. Only when I grew up, I realised that they actually have limited diversity and promote a certain kind of body type. However, it looks like, that is changing now.
According to India Today, Mattle, the famous doll making company has come up with a new collection of Barbies that are more inclusive- they represent women of colour in STEM i.e. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics professions. These Barbies come with the full gear, helmet, binoculars, and jacket and even boots. Ooh, we love the attention to detail.
Now, a new badass Barbie has come to the market and the figurine is based on Nalini Nadkarni. Who is that you may ask- well, I'll tell you.
The company is doing this is collaboration with Nalini Nadkarni, an Indo-American ecologist and a scientist at the University of Utah and National Geographic. Malini is a pioneer in rain forest ecology and dedicates a lot of time researching canopies (the highest part of trees).
The exciting story behind this is that in the early 2000s, Nalini realised that there weren't too many girls interested in canopy studies. She also knew that Barbie could influence a whole lot of children and so to encourage more women in the field she started making her own dolls who looked like ecologists.
She would buy second-hand dolls, get a tailor to stitch clothes that suited the character better and put them in strapping tiny jackets and boots. She would call them TreeTop Barbies and her motive was to attract more women towards STEM jobs. She would even take them along with her to conferences and events. And she did sell a chunk of them!
She later pitched the idea to Mattle to convert it into a legit thing. However, the company wasn't interested in the concept back then. After the dolls became popular and the concept of TreeTop Barbies made headlines, Mattle approached Nalini to try to stop her from making these dolls. However, Nalini refused to stop making these dolls.
Now, together Mattle and Nalini are making Barbies that represent women in different professions. The first inspiration is, of course, Nalini herself, who has made history.
Researcher Nalini Nadkarni studies the ecology of the forest canopy.