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Barbie honors Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi with new Inspiring Women doll

Barbie honors Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi with new Inspiring Women doll
Posted at 10:15 PM, Apr 23, 2024

May is Asian American and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month, and Mattel is getting and early start on the festivities by introducing a new Barbie doll to its Inspiring Women Collection. U.S. figure skating champion and Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi joins an illustrious group of women immortalized as the iconic doll.

Yamaguchi’s success as an athlete and in her work as the founder of a nonprofit children’s literacy organization, the Always Dream foundation, motivated Mattel to include her in their popular Barbie Inspiring Women Collection.

“Barbie is proud to honor Kristi Yamaguchi as the latest addition to our Inspiring Women series,” said Krista Berger, senior vice president of Barbie, said in an email statement to Simplemost. “As the first Asian American to win a gold medal in the Olympics, she has broken down barriers for women and Asian Americans in the sports industry, inspiring young girls to, as Kristi Yamaguchi says, ‘Dream big and accomplish big things.’”

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Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi is the newest doll in the Barbie Inspiring Women's Collection

Last year, Mattel honored actor Anna May Wong with an Inspiring Women Series Barbie during AAPI Heritage Month.

You can preorder the Kristi Yamaguchi Barbie at Walmart and Target for $35, or at Mattel Creations for Barbie Signature members. Mattel shows the Barbie as scheduled to ship on or before Aug. 30.

Yamaguchi became the first Asian American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in figure skating at the 1992 games in Albertville, France. She was also a two-time amateur figure skating world champion. She performed around the world as a professional skater as part of the Stars on Ice tour from 1992 until 2002.

At first, Yamaguchi didn’t see herself as a trailblazer. Her mother was born in a World War II internment camp for Japanese-Americans and her grandfather served as a lieutenant in the U.S. Army. But, the young skater simply saw herself as a girl from California with Olympic gold dreams after watching American figure Dorothy Hamill win the gold medal in 1976.

But, after her gold-medal victory, Yamaguchi noticed the response from the Asian community.

“Honestly I just felt like another California girl that grew up (here), and I had to land a triple Lutz-triple toe,” Yamaguchi shared in a 2021 Olympics Time Machine interview. “I think it was after when I received so much support and outreach from the Asian American community is when it hit me. ‘Oh wow, what’s going on here?’ … I was able to really appreciate what it meant, particularly to the Japanese American community. I also gained a deeper appreciation for my family, my ancestors and everything that they had gone through in order for me to live the American dream.”

Now, Yamaguchi has her own Barbie doll to commemorate her work on the ice and for the greater community.

Kristi Yamaguchi Barbie
Mattel/Jason Tidwell

Her Barbie’s outfit is inspired by Yamaguchi’s 1992 Olympic costume designed by Lauren Sheehan that Yamaguchi wore when she won the gold medal.

In the press statement, Yamaguchi said she is honored to have a Barbie modeled after her.

“My life’s work – whether on the ice or off through my advocacy at Always Dream – has been driven by my personal mission to inspire new generations of athletes, students and activists,” said Yamaguchi. “Collaborating with Mattel to create my Inspiring Women Barbie doll is a natural extension of our shared purpose, and I hope it serves as a constant reminder for young kids everywhere to follow their dreams.”

Barbie also announced it will split a $25,000 donation between Yamaguchi’s Always Dream Foundation and the ASPIRE (Asian Sister Participating in Reaching Excellence, Inc.) organization, dedicated to “building and empowering Asian American women leaders through identity development, mentorship and education.”

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