Adwoa Aboah Barbie collaboration: We caught up with the supermodel about feminism and becoming a doll

Model and activist Adwoa Aboah received a great honour last night. No, it wasn’t an OBE, but she will probably get one of those soon, she was immortalised as a Barbie doll.

The iconic doll bore an uncanny resemblance to Aboah, and came complete with tattoos, freckles and the sequin Halpern jumpsuit she wore to The Fashion Awards where she won Model of the Year in 2017.

At the Gurls Talk x Barbie at Dover Street Market event last night she was presented with the doll by British Vogue editor Edward Enninful who said: “I’ve known you since you were tiny. You are a constant inspiration, and I get such joy in seeing all your wonderful achievements.” Aboah joined British Vogue as Contributing Editor in July 2017 and was the inaugural cover star of Enninful’s first issue.

Barbie is honouring Aboah for her work on Gurls Talk, an online community for young women which gives them a space to talk about everything from mental health and equality to sexuality.

She was named the latest Barbie ‘Shero’ to mark Barbie’s 60th birthday on International Women’s day. Previous Barbie Sheros include Instagram’s Eva Chen and dancer Misty Copeland.

We caught up with Adwoa about her induction into the valley of the (Barbie) dolls…

How did they make the doll?

I sent them loads of reference of things that I wanted to focus on, I was like this is how I want my hair to be, I wanted it to be really slick and shaved, I wanted my freckles to feature and all my tattoos. Then when I went to LA I met everyone who was part of it, from painting the face and moulding the head shape. We based the makeup on the makeup I had at the British Fashion awards by Celia Burton.

Why did you choose this look?

One of my great loves is clothes and championing young designers and Michael Halpern is one of my favourites. He was the one who designed my outfit at the British Fashion awards where I won model of the year so it made sense to feature that outfit.

What are you going to do with your Barbie?

I don’t know I think she should just sit on my mantelpiece. When I’m in London I live at my mum and dad’s so I reckon they’ll put it somewhere pride of place so they can show it off to everyone.

Did you play with Barbie’s when you were younger?

When I was younger me and my sister played a lot of sports, we rode bikes and we did mostly boyish things but we did also play with Barbies. Mine and Kesewa’s were always having affairs, she would ask why the Barbies couldn’t just have a happy life, but I was always making them get into fights.

Adwoa Aboah’s Barbie Shero 

What does diversifying Barbie and culture mean to you?

It’s detrimental to girls’ lives when they don’t see themselves represented in a true light and I think that was something that I was really missing when I was growing up. I just didn’t have anyone to base myself on. I had Scary Spice but I don’t think I really wanted to base myself on Scary Spice.

How does it feel when you grow up without these kind of reference points?

I think it makes you feel like you don’t want to be yourself. In the early stages of life I was always flipping through the pages of Mizz magazine and I couldn’t see myself in those magazines and I felt quite alien. I just yearned to look like someone else the whole time. I didn’t see someone who looked like me and think ‘oh great she looks like me, fine then.’

It can sometimes be a grey area but it’s so important to have all sorts of representation across all companies. I’ve had so much feedback from people saying this is the kind of Barbie I would like to have but maybe it’s also because of the other things I stand for.

What’s the main thing you’ve learnt from the Gurls Talk community?

I think the main thing I’ve learnt is when girls stand up and give their truths it gives me even more confidence to keep on sharing all the things that are still going on in my life. I have also realised that this is going to be a lifelong project, we have so much to cover and still so much to do. I saw Michelle Obama last year and she said don’t do this for yourselves, do it for your children. We might not be here to see all the changes but that shouldn’t stop us from carrying on and campaigning for equality and change.


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