Barbie Wars: Chaka Chaka out, Lira in


The launch of an anniversary Barbie doll in the likeness of singing sensation Lira was big news this week.

But now it has emerged that singer and humanitarian Yvonne Chaka Chaka was one of the few African women approached to have a Barbie modelled in their likeness, but she was not happy with the final product.

City Press has learnt that Chaka Chaka was unhappy because the doll looked nothing like her. So, it seems, leading global children’s entertainment company, Mattel, decided to go with songstress Lerato “Lira” Molapo, as the first African to be awarded a one-of-a-kind doll as part of Barbie’s 60th Anniversary Shero campaign celebrating role models who inspire young girls to dream big.

Chaka Chaka did not respond to our requests for comment.

Lira joins sheroes, including Ibtihaj Muhammad, Maya Gabeira, Chen Man and Misty Copeland, who continue to break barriers.

Since 2015, Barbie has created 50 lookalike dolls honouring a diverse range of women. On Friday, Michelle Chidoni, Mattel’s vice-president global brand communication, confirmed they did approach Chaka Chaka, but they had some challenges creating a doll the singer approved of.

“We are hopeful we will work with Chaka Chaka at some point to honour her for her amazing work. We are also looking forward to honouring more African women in future,” Chidoni said. “Lira is an inspiration to young girls. As a brand we are dedicated to inspiring the limitless potential in every girl.”

Lira couldn’t contain her excitement, saying she was deeply honoured to be Barbie’s first African role model.

She was excited to align with a brand on a mission to show girls diverse role models.

“I have always endeavoured for the celebration of my skin tone and natural hair. It’s amazing to see this reflected in my doll. This is an enormous gesture and affirmation that the world is celebrating Africa for who we are. I am very grateful.

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