Aimee Song is a Los Angeles-based fashion blogger, interior designer and YouTuber. And she’s at the top of her game in all spheres. Her blog, “Song of Style,” earns more than 2 million page views per month. Her Instagram account has more than 4.7 million followers. She boasts jewellery collections and clothing collections. She’s been featured in numerous high-profile publications, including the New York Times. And when the toy company Mattel noticed a certain T-shirt design of Song’s, it gave them a bright idea for their most iconic doll.
Song also runs an online store, Two Songs, with her sister, Dani. They design, model and sell their own clothing line through the site. "We wanted to create a line that is honest and giving and making a change for a better life," Song said. "We wanted to create a conscious and ethical line for us and for our friends and our followers around the world."
In June of 2017, Two Songs offered a special T-shirt that says LOVE WINS in rainbow letters. The shirt was created to celebrate Pride Month. “So many of my friends (actually most of them) are a part of the LGBTQ community, and I know that life was not always easy for them,” Song said about her desire to mark the occasion.
Song sold the T-shirts to benefit The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization focused on preventing suicide among LGBTQ youth. "It absolutely breaks my heart that some kids take their own lives because they can’t see that it will get better in the end," Song wrote on her website. "I’m happy that The Trevor Project exists to help those who need it."
Mattel was so inspired by Song’s efforts that not only did they put Barbie in a LOVE WINS T-shirt, but they created a doll in Song’s own image too. “Proud to wear this ‘Love Wins’ shirt with @songofstyle,” Barbie wrote on Instagram. “Did you know that her exclusive t-shirts benefit different causes and non-profits?”
Song wanted her Barbie to reflect her values and the values her LOVE WINS T-shirt design stands for. "When I knew I was getting my own Barbie doll, it was super important for me to have the Barbie represent who I was and what I believe in and obviously dress like me," she said. "Can’t thank the entire @Mattel @Barbie team enough for letting my Barbie be ME!"
Barbie's IG followers were thrilled with the Aimee Song doll and the LOVE WINS design. “I grew up playing with Barbie dolls and as a member of the LGBT+ community my heart is full with this amazing step towards equality in the media,” one fan commented. Another wrote, “Thank you for showing us how to win with love and acceptance.”
Needless to say, Song was delighted to share the spotlight with one of pop culture's longest-lived fashion plates. "I’m beyond thrilled to have my own @Barbie doll and to wear my #LoveWins t-shirt from @ShopTwoSongs," Song wrote on IG. "I still can’t believe I got to partner with #Barbie as a brand that also celebrates diversity, kindness and acceptance."
Song isn’t the first artist to reimagine Barbie through an LGBTQ lens. Betty Strachan-Otter made waves when she recontextualized Barbie as one half of a two-mom family. In the fall of 2017, the Australian artist created the lesbian Barbie couple to promote voting yes on marriage equality in her country.
“I like to use my dolls to depict scenes containing positive affirmations to those who can relate to them,” Strachan-Otter told the Daily Mail. “I’m saddened that there even needs to be a debate on same-sex marriage. Nobody worries about who you love when you’re in a committed straight relationship, so why should same-sex couples need to be treated any differently?”
Mark Jonathan is a designer who brings Barbie dolls into the LGBTQ space by repainting them to look like drag queens. Specifically, he turns Barbies into popular contestants from RuPaul’s Drag Race. He even gave Naomi Smalls from the show’s eighth season the full package treatment.
Jonathan turned this Barbie into Bob the Drag Queen from the neon challenge in the show’s eighth season. Like the Drag Race queens, Jonathan wants to do radical new things with Barbie. “Changing the visualization and what it actually looks like and the meaning behind the Barbie doll is kind of what drew me to it,” he said.
She’s perfect, she’s beautiful, she looks like Linda Evangelista. She’s Jonathan’s version of Valentina from the ninth season of Drag Race, but made from the Mattel mascot. “They’re such an iconic doll,” Jonathan said. “There’s so much history behind the Barbie doll.”