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Why ‘Entrepreneur Barbie’ is another miss for Mattel

Pras Subramanian

Silicon Valley Barbie is finally here! Mattel (MAT) is rolling out a new line of ‘Entrepreneur’ Barbie dolls, adding to a resume of various careers fashion model to astronaut, veterinarian, firefighter, and fitness instructor. It’s understandable why Mattel wants to push another line of Barbies from a business perspective, but the question remains if this will be (1) a profitable move, and (2) a good way to encourage young girls to get into the business world.

Danielle Hughes, founder and CEO of Divine Capital Markets (which is a WBENC certified Woman-Owned firm), isn’t a fan. "Barbie sales have been decreasing, it's an opportunity for them to try this out, but i just think it's going to fall flat," she says in the attached clip. "It just hits the wrong note."

Related: Is Barbie's allure on the wane?

The message being sent is what bothers Hughes the most. “Is it the right message to take a doll who’s always been a fashion icon with unbelievable measurements and then stick a cellphone and tablet in her hand and say ‘oh, she’s CEO Barbie’? I don’t think so.”

Hughes notes that Mattel received input from leading women in the business world in creating Entrepreneur Barbie, which she found even more surprising given it seemed obvious to her as a bad idea. “What we really need in our society is more women in higher positions of power, like maybe President, and leaders in other areas.”

The danger from Hughes’ perspective is the body image Barbie projects to young girls. “I don’t think women and girls take their cue from Barbie on what to be when they grow up. I do think it’s an image issue though - we look at Barbie and see this unachievable body size, and I think that’s the problem with Barbie.”

What Mattel should be focusing on, Hughes concludes, is not to change Barbie’s profession every year, but make her physical appearance depict “what normal women look like.”

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