Early on Tuesday, images of a new Barbie playset sans its male counterpart, Ken, started making waves on the internet.
The blonde-haired fashion doll manufactured by the American toy manufacturer, Mattel Inc, started trending on Twitter after photos showing a "lesbian" Barbie accompanied with a female companion started circulating on the platform.
Barbie and Her Girlfriend
The images show blonde-haired Barbie alongside her "girlfriend," who can be seen sporting a bob hairstyle. The "couple" is seen in different settings, wearing bright-colored tees that read, "LOVE WINS."
"Barbie and her girlfriend," one Twitter user captioned the photos, while another wrote, "how barbie get a girlfriend before me? this is so .. i'm so jealous but happy for my girl,"
The social media posts led to speculation that Ken was no longer in the picture and had been replaced by "Jen" instead. Here are some of the reactions:
Blogger-Inspired Doll Used to Promote LGBTQ+ Rights
Over the last several years, Mattel has made an effort to make Barbie more inclusive with a range of not only different body types, but also ethnicities and races. In keeping with those efforts, the toymaker has also extended its support to the LGBTQ+ community.
Turns out, the "lesbian" Barbie photos that are being widely circulated on Twitter are from a 2017 collaboration between Mattel and fashion blogger Aimee Song to to raise awareness of non-profit organisations that lend support to LGBTQ+ youth.
The photos were taken from an Instagram post shared by Barbie's official account and the "girlfriend" is, in fact, a doll dedicated to Song, whose company produces human-sized versions of the 'Love Wins' tees with some of the proceeds going to The Trevor Project, a non-profit organization focused on preventing suicide among LGBTQ youth.
"Proud to wear this "Love Wins" shirt with @songofstyle! Did you know that her exclusive t-shirts benefit different causes and non-profits? Such an inspiring initiative and fabulous few days I have spent with Aimee, she's a doll! ," the Instagram post read.
Mattel released its first lesbian Barbie in 2016 to celebrate the achievements of soccer player and Olympic gold medallist Abby Wambach.