The Barbie made of Estonian freestyle skier Kelly Sildaru was unveiled at an event in Kadriorg on Wednesday, making Sildaru the first Estonian to be immortalized as the iconic doll.
The Kelly Barbie was created in the framework of the Dream Gap Project, a worldwide initiative launched in 2019 aimed at using positive role models to help foster young girls' self-confidence.
"This is a big deal and a great honor for me to be chosen to participate in the Dream Gap campaign, and to be a role model for girls," Sildaru said on ETV's "Ringvaade" on Wednesday evening. "This is a great and sweet acknowledgement."
The Kelly doll creation process began in spring 2020, but was then delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. "We started working on it again in the fall. Essentially, I put my clothes on at home, grabbed my skis, took a picture and sent it to them," she recalled. "They started making the doll based on that."
Sildaru had mentioned her approximate height to them as well, but wasn't sure if that was ultimately taken into account in the doll's design. While Barbie dolls have been criticized for their unrealistic proportions, she admitted that she hadn't even considered that.
"If this is a Barbie, then even if she has unrealistic measurements, it's still Barbie," she said. "If she's wearing my clothes, then she's my Barbie."
The Kelly Barbie will not be made available for retail sale, however, as Barbie dolls created for the Dream Gap Project are one of a kind. "She'll be at home with me for a while, but at one point we'll put it out for display somewhere for others to see," Sildaru added.
Sildaru admitted she was shocked the first time she saw her Kelly doll, according to a press release.
"It's uncanny to see myself in miniature form that doesn't move or talk," she said. "The biggest similarity is that she has my exact ski gear — the same helmet, hair, face and of course skis. Mattel even took my partners into account; they used the original brands when making the doll, and even signed contracts with Faction, Red Bull and Roxy so they could use their logos on the Kelly doll."
Asked what she would tell her young fans, Sildaru said that it makes no difference what you decide to do in life — what's most important is that you enjoy it.
"It's an honor to be a role model that inspires little girls to be involved in sports and not give up when they encounter obstacles," the Estonian skier said. "I like that my Barbie doesn't just represent me, but also encourages girls to strive toward their dreams."
Tallinn native Kelly Sildaru, 20, is Estonia's first freestyle skiing world champion, X Games gold medalist, Olympic bronze medalist and six-time junior world champion, among other professional achievements. She was also the youngest person to ever win the X Games.
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"Barbie is committed to shining a light on empowering role models in an effort to inspire more girls," the brand said on its Dream Gap website. "As a part of the Dream Gap Project, we're introducing girls to remarkable women's stories to show them you can be anything."
Other role models to be immortalized with their own Barbies include tennis player Naomi Osaka (Japan), hammer thrower Anita Wlodarczyk (Poland), broadcaster Clara Amfo (U.K.), salsa singer Celia Cruz (Cuba/U.S.), children and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa, M.D. (Canada), activist and Sokola Rimba founder Butet Manurung (Indonesia) and astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti (Italy).
Editor: Aili Vahtla