US toy firm Mattel recently announced that it has created a doll inspired by Francisca Moderna, a Paralympian member of the Chilean wheelchair tennis, shot-putting, discus throwing, and javelin team.
The 43-year-old athlete is the latest notable person to have a barbie made in her honor. The doll maker said it had created the doll in a bid to diversify its range.
Francisca, who set a 2019 world record for shot-putting, had wanted to pursue an Olympic career since childhood. But in 1999, her spine was damaged after being injured in a landslide during a hurricane in Puerto Rico, where she worked at the time.
Francisca, the standard-bearer of the Chilean team, is competing in this year’s Paralympics, which is happening in Tokyo from August 24 to September 5.
In an Instagram post, Francisca shared how excited she felt upon seeing the paralympic barbie, as these dolls will boost the confidence of children with disabilities to take part in sports.
“Especially because this doll is going to encourage more boys and girls in the world to be motivated by the practice of sport!” she wrote. “Motivating children to be our future champions is what fills my heart the most! No matter how old you are, don’t stop believing in yourself because you can be whatever you want to be!”
Francisca told Reuters that Mattel gathered details about her—including items from her wardrobe—ahead of the barbie’s launch. The company also asked permission from her sponsors to recreate their logos.
“They may have depicted me more in my tennis playing era, and perhaps a few pounds lighter,” she said. “At the end of the day, what Mattel wants to highlight is not my disability, but my sporting achievements, and that means a lot.”
Francisca hopes her barbie would send the message that disability shouldn’t stand in the way of people achieving their goals.
“It’s a recognition of all the years of sacrifice I made for sports and the results of that,” she said.
Francisca is grateful to Mattel for its tremendous efforts in representing athletes with disabilities.
“I never imagined that one day I would be transformed as the first-ever Chilean Barbie doll!” she wrote on Twitter in Spanish. “Thank you to barbie for this emotional tribute. I am overflowed with emotions to see a Paralympic shotput Barbie doll.”
The paralympic doll falls under Mattel’s “Sheroes” line of barbies which the company started in 2015 to champion extraordinary female figures from around the world.
During the release, two more dolls joined Francisca: Olympic diver Paola Espinoza and racquetball champion Paola Longoria, both from Mexico.
The doll maker also revealed a range of Barbies representing women who helped combat COVID-19, including Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who made the Oxford coronavirus vaccine.
The scientist was given the honor of “Barbie Role Model” for her work at the University of Oxford and her role as project leader in creating the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine, which is now being used in many countries across the globe.
Gilbert’s barbie is one of the five to honor women working in STEM careers. Her doll wears a black trouser suit paired with a white shirt and glasses.
Mattel hopes to inspire girls to get into science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) careers with this barbie.
“My wish is that my doll will show children careers they may not be aware of, like a vaccinologist,” she said.
Mattel has been continuously making efforts to appreciate exemplary women. Last year, Barbie India launched a doll inspired by the Indian Para-badminton player Manasi Joshi.
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