When Mattel was looking to make over its iconic Barbie doll it decided to shine a light on empowering role models past and present in an effort to inspire young girls. As a key part of the toy company’s Dream Gap Project it is introducing girls to women’s stories from all walks of life to show them they can be anything, including a writer.
Thus was born a Barbie role model with the likeness of Weybridge author Julia Alvarez.
“Ever since coming to this country as a 10-year-old immigrant, I wanted a Barbie,” Alvarez said when she received the one-of-a-kind doll that looked like her. “Now 60 years later I get to be one! The best part of being recognized as a 2021 Official Role Model will be if Julia Barbie inspires little Latinx girls like me to become the best mujeres they can be.”
A Dominican American who faced the hardships of assimilating to the English language and American life, Alvarez found comfort in the world of stories, fostering a love for reading and writing. Among her many prize-winning books for adults and young readers is “In the Time of the Butterflies.” President Obama awarded Alvarez the National Medal of Arts.
Mattel last week introduced two dolls in honor of Hispanic Heritage Month: Alvarez and the late salsa singer Celia Cruz. Other role model Barbies include emergency room nurse Amy O’Sullivan, vaccine developer Sarah Gilbert, Australian Member of Parliament Julie Bishop, cosmonaut Anna Kikina and para-athlete Madison De Rozario.