The global toy manufacturer Mattel, best known for Barbie products, has launched a doll inspired by Ukrainian sabre fencer Olga Kharlan as part of their “Role Models” series.

The series features dolls created in the likeness of successful women in various professions from all over the world.

Kharlan said that as a child she had a Barbie doll and would never have imagined inspiring one herself.

“I am insanely happy that I could motivate the legendary Barbie brand to create this beauty,” Kharlan wrote on Facebook on March 5.

Kharlan is the first Ukrainian to be featured in the collection, which includes dolls portraying 40 famous women.

The 29-year-old fencer is a four-time world champion and Olympic team winner. Throughout her career, Kharlan has been ranked as the world’s best fencer three times.


In 2016, the athlete was a winner of the Kyiv Post’s Top 30 under 30 Awards, which celebrate Ukraine’s young leaders across professional fields.

The Kharlan Barbie doll is dressed in a white fencing uniform with a Ukrainian flag on her trouser leg. Her hair is tied back in a ponytail, the doll holds a sabre in one hand and a helmet painted in Ukraine’s national colors in the other.

“Olga has been fencing from the young age of 10 years old with her godfather and has quickly dominated the fencing world with her speed and litheness,” Barbie’s website reads.

Having created dolls for over 50 years, the brand has long been one of the biggest promoters of conventional beauty standards. Their most famous creation, the blond and impossibly skinny Barbie doll, has been criticized for its unrealistic depiction that distorts perceptions of beauty among young girls.

Following global movements of women’s empowerment, Mattel turned the corner in their designs, manufacturing diverse dolls with different skin colors, heights and body shapes.

Two years ago, the company launched its “Role Models” series before International Women’s Day, celebrated on March 8.

Back then, the collection included dolls portraying some of the history’s most influential women like Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and U.S. aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart.


Through their empowering stories, the company aimed to encourage girls to dream big and aspire for careers rather than good looks.

This year, Barbie updated the series with more female achievers who are outstanding role models for girls.

“We’re introducing girls to women’s stories from all walks of life to show them they can be anything,” Barbie’s website reads.

Apart from Kharlan, the new dolls portray world champion sprinter and fastest woman in British history Dina Asher-Smith, the captain of the French national soccer team Amandine Henry and Turkish Paralympic swimmer Sümeyye Boyacı.

The role model dolls cost about $30. Recent additions to the series will be available for purchase online.


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