Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa, a Canadian doctor of Nigerian descent and a spoken word poet, is one of the ‘Barbie Fashionistas’ strutting the diverse doll lineup of the new collection in appreciation of diversity.
‘Dr Chika Stacy Oriuwa remembers dressing up her Barbies as doctors, poets and performers as a young girl, but none of the dolls looked like the woman she aspired to be.’ -Canadian Press.
The 27-year-old has spoken openly about the discrimination she faced as the only Black student in her class during her first year in medical school in 2016, and helped spearhead efforts to diversify the program.
She became the first Black woman to be selected as sole valedictorian for University of Toronto’s faculty of medicine upon graduation last year.
From a young age, Oriuwa said she strained against the “subconscious messaging” that she didn’t fit the mould to work in the medical field.
Even as she played out her fantasies of adulthood with Barbies, Oriuwa said the brand didn’t offer many Black dolls, particularly ones with her skin tone and Afro-textured hair.
“Not only did I not necessarily have a Barbie that looked like myself in the field I wanted to pursue, but I actually didn’t know any Black female doctors at all until much later on in life,” she said.
“It would have been so pivotal for me to have had a Barbie that can really help to solidify more of my dreams and letting me know that it really is something that is tangible.”
Oriuwa worked with the Barbie team to design a doll that depicts her features accurately, complete with medical accessories including a white coat and a stethoscope.
“A part of this is also changing the narrative of what a doctor looks like,” she said.
“I really wanted to be able to send that messaging back to the younger generation of girls to inspire them and let them know that truly any one of them can occupy this field or any field that they aspire towards.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2021.
Chika believes the gesture would encourage more people to change the stereotypical image of a female doctor.