Barbie is #Unapologetic, but what for?


Barbie boasts more than 150 jobs, exemplifying women in virtually any workplace you could imagine. But after gaining over 50 years of experience, the doll is striving further to break through her “plastic ceiling.”

The doll is now the hostess of a collection called Entrepreneurship Barbie: Mattel’s collaboration with real female entrepreneurs like Jennifer Hyman and Jenny Fleiss, the creators of Rent the Runway, and Rosie O’Neill, one of the founders of the candy boutique Sugarfina. Her new slogan is “If you can dream it, you can be it”, and she has certainly been all of it.

Barbie shows that a woman can grow up to be anything and everything from a politician to an astronaut to a nurse to a soccer player. Her resume is bulletproof and her LinkedIn profile is teeming with connections. She encourages young girls to take their dreams and achieve them to their fullest extent.

And in case you were wondering just what kind of attitude Barbie uses to achieve all of these things, just check out her hashtag, #Unapologetic.

Despite the confidence in the word, it begs the question why does Mattel, and women in general, need to have the unapologetic attitude? Why do female entrepreneurs need to act unapologetic in the first place?

It could be that Mattel is using the media hashtag as motivation for young girls to believe in their dreams: simple and, true to the word “unforgiving.” Or, maybe it’s no coincidence that the hashtag is the resurrection of an earlier, controversial collaboration.

Earlier this year, Mattel paired up with Sports Illustrated to design a limited edition cover of Barbie in a black and white one-piece with white sunglasses. The magazine was sold exclusively on Target’s online shopping site, using the same hashtag #Unapologetic.

With two controversial companies joining hands to create an even more controversial product, it’s easy to see why the companies were being #Unapologetic as they continued to push Barbie’s “plastic ceiling.”

 A children’s doll on the cover of an adult’s swimwear magazine is provoking to say the least. But in this century, why should either of the companies need to apologize? Rihanna recently wore a translucent crystal gown, exposing all of her body with only a fur wrap to offer some cover, despite knowing that her fan base consists of a multitude of young, impressionable adults.  Do we blame her and call it inappropriate, or praise her for pushing the fashion industry’s envelope?

The 21st century has grown into an era of expressing oneself without needing justification for one’s actions. The recycling of #Unapologetic says that Mattel and Barbie aren’t apologizing for their bold choice to be a swimsuit cover model and an entrepreneur, and encourages growing girls to be #Unapologetic with their career choices as well.

So really, the question becomes: are women of the 21st century a part of the  #Unapologetic movement?

About the Author

Claire Roney is currently a sophomore at Arizona State University and Barrett, The Honors College. She is studying broadcast journalism at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication for her bachelor's and master's degree in an accelerated 4 year program. As a young female writer, she is passionate about supporting women's success in male-dominated industries.