Daniel Wu slams Mattel for Asian stereotypes in ‘You Can Be Anything’ Barbies

Daniel Wu slams Mattel for Asian stereotypes in ‘You Can Be Anything’ BarbiesDaniel Wu slams Mattel for Asian stereotypes in ‘You Can Be Anything’ Barbies
via Daniel Wu
Hong Kong film star Daniel Wu has taken to social media to call out Mattel for perpetuating Asian stereotypes in its “You Can Be Anything” Barbie line of dolls. 
Asian stereotype Barbies: On Jan. 21, Wu specifically highlighted two dolls representing Asian characters: a violinist and a doctor wearing a panda-themed outfit. In his posts on Facebook, Instagram and China’s Weibo, Wu expressed support for diversity in toys but questioned the specific portrayals.
“I am all for diversity, but a ‘you can be anything’ Asian Barbie that is a violinist or a panda doctor? That’s more like ‘You can be anything your Asian parents want you to be’,” the 49-year-old actor wrote. “Either someone non-Asian at Barbie f*cked this up with stereotyping, or the person who created this is Asian and they are carrying on generational trauma.” 
Why it matters: The controversy raises broader questions about the significance of accurate representation in children’s toys. The portrayal of professions such as doctors and violinists, while respectable, may inadvertently limit the diverse interests and career choices within the Asian community. Positive and diverse representation is crucial for fostering a sense of belonging and empowering individuals to pursue their unique aspirations.
Social media uproar: Wu’s posts quickly gained traction on Weibo, with the related hashtag amassing over 22 million views. Public reactions varied, with some users making light of the issue and simply mocking the design as “really funny.” Others, however, expressed concerns about the potential impact on young minds and the perpetuation of stereotypes.
Mattel’s history of diversity issues: Mattel has previously faced backlash for its lack of diversity in doll representations. In 2021, the launch of Tokyo Olympics-themed Barbie dolls drew criticism for their apparent lack of East Asian facial features.
“Our intention to represent the Asian community with the Skateboarder doll fell short and we fully receive and recognize the feedback,” Mattel said at the time. “Moving forward, we will work to find more ways to champion all representation and celebrate the amazing achievements of all Olympic athletes, who are showing us that anything is possible.”
Wu’s advocacy for the community: Wu’s criticism of Mattel aligns with his broader commitment to challenging stereotypes and promoting inclusivity. Known for his extensive film career and advocacy for the Asian community, Wu has actively spoken out against racial incidents. In 2021, he collaborated with fellow actor Daniel Dae Kim to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest of an assailant who attacked a 91-year-old Chinese man in Oakland’s Chinatown.
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