Mattel, the creators of Barbie, has insisted that from the early days of the doll line they have been pushing for positive messages and themes that the girls playing with Barbie could learn from. Over the years they have given the titular doll many careers; they have given her a multiracial, multicultural circle of friends; Mattel even gave her dolls a variety of body types beyond her initial “unrealistic” build. And in 2018, “Role Model” Barbies were introduced, featuring extraordinary and famous women depicted as dolls. The latest batch of the Role Models was revealed earlier this week, featuring a Barbie of tennis superstar Naomi Osaka designed by a Filipino.
CNN Philippines has it that new Barbie Role Model dolls were unveiled by Mattel this past July 12. One of them, the doll for Haitian-Japanese grand-slam tennis champion Naomi Osaka, was brought to Barbie plastic life in her 2020 Australian Open tennis outfit by Mattel designer Carlyle Nuera, of proud Filipino stock from San Francisco (mother from Tacloban). On Mattel’s official website, a blog entry about Naomi Osaka’s doll describes Nuera as being well-known in-company for thoroughly researching the real-life subjects that will be made into new Barbie Role Models.
“Obviously Naomi’s athletic skill is unmatched, that’s a fact,” says Nuera about Naomi!Barbie. “But what I personally admire the most about Naomi Osaka is how she uses her platform, the spotlight on her and her voice, to raise awareness about social justice.” Nuera also related a more in-depth retrospective of his designing the doll, including having to work from home due to the pandemic and talking to Osaka herself, in Japan at the time, via Zoom. The tennis darling was especially keen on having the right shade of her curly hair (golden ombré) and pearl earrings, details Nuera accurately depicted.
Carlyle Nuera’s work on the Role Model Naomi Osaka Barbie was a natural progression from a previous Mattel project with a design closer to home. He had been lead designer for the Barbie Signature line, which includes a “Mutya Barbie” depicting a Filipina beauty queen. He proudly attested that he based the doll’s Pinay looks and clothing ensemble on his own mother, who won a Miss Tacloban pageant in 1971.
Mattel’s Naomi Osaka Role Model Barbie doll is available on their online shop for $29.99. It features 22 points articulation for great action posing, and comes with Nike-branded tennis shirt and visor, blue athletic shoes, replica Yonex racket and tennis ball. The real Osaka, age 23, has won a tennis Grand Slam four times, and is currently ranked Number 1 by the Women’s Tennis Association. Her success is notable in Japan, her mother’s home country, where she even has a manga based on her life, developed by her sister Mari Osaka and manga publisher Nakayoshi.
Image: Yahoo News