You know she's fantastic — now she's in plastic.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka was honored with a Barbie doll in her likeness, and (surprise, surprise) it sold out almost immediately. There's no way to know whether they were scooped up by collectors, scalpers, or parents of actual kids, but Osaka tweeted she hopes the doll reminds every child "that they can be and do anything." She noted that her Barbie's pink, blue and white ensemble is a replica of the Nike outfit she wore at the 2020 Australian open. Her doll comes with a tiny Yonex tennis racket.
The Osaka Barbie is part of Mattel's Role Models line, which honors inspiring women from all over the world. Other female athletes who've gotten the doll treatment include Olympic gymnasts Gabby Douglas and Aly Raisman, skateboarder Sky Brown and snowboarder Chloe Kim. Additional famous faces like actor Yara Shahidi, filmmaker Patty Jenkins, dancer Misty Copeland, aviator Amelia Earhart and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson have been enshrined in plastic for the Role Models line, too.
"We are incredibly honored to spotlight Naomi Osaka," Mattel executive Lisa McKnight said in a statement. "She has paved the way for future generations of girls to dream bigger, and through her unwavering courage and honesty, shown the world the importance of being your own biggest champion. Naomi continues to break boundaries on and off the court and is a powerful role model to fans everywhere."
Unlike old school Barbies, known for their blonde tresses and inhuman proportions, the Osaka doll looks just like the tennis star, with gorgeous natural curls and 22 movable joints for maximum athleticism. It was brought to life by Carlyle Nuera, lead designer for Mattel's Barbie Signature, who's well-known within the company for his detail-oriented approach. His team consulted with Osaka during the pandemic over Zoom: "Naomi wanted her Barbie to have her golden ombré hair and pearl earrings, so that's what she got," he explained. In an Instagram post, the designer wrote, "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."
Not only is Osaka a role model for young people of all backgrounds, she's leading the conversation about mental health in athletics. The tennis star withdrew from the French Open and decided to skip Wimbledon as an act of self-care for her mental health. She'll compete at the Olympics in Tokyo in a few weeks, representing her home country of Japan. Osaka has also memorably used her platform to protest racism. During the U.S. Open in September 2020, she wore seven different face masks printed with the names of victims of police violence, starting with Breonna Taylor.
Here's hoping Mattel restocks the Osaka Barbie really soon, since kids everywhere should be able to idolize the tennis star in plastic form. Honestly, I'm pretty upset there wasn't a Naomi Osaka doll when I still played with Barbies — but, er, that was before she was born.