Our Goal: To Fight Stereotypes about Marginalized Youth
TORONTO — Dr. Chika Stacy Oriuwa remembers dressing up her Barbies as doctors, poets and performers when she was a young girl, but none of the dolls looked quite like the woman she aspired to be.
Now, the Canadian physician, spoken word poet and advocate is not only living out her childhood dreams but has a Barbie made in her image to show for it. Oriuwa says she hopes the launch of a doll celebrating her success as a Black female doctor will show kids there aren't any limits on their play or their potential.
The University of Toronto psychiatry resident is one of six women serving as inspiration for Mattel's new line of Barbies honouring health workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis.
The toymaker says Oriuwa is being recognized as a "role model" for her advocacy against systemic racism in health care.
Oriuwa says she worked with the Barbie team to design a doll with her skin tone, Afro-textured hair, a white coat and a stethoscope. The 27-year-old says these authentic features help change "the narrative of what a doctor looks like."
She became the first Black woman to be selected as sole valedictorian for the University of Toronto's faculty of medicine upon graduation last year. From a young age, Oriuwa said she strained against the "subconscious messaging" that she didn't fit the mould to work in the medical field.
Even as she played out her fantasies of adulthood with Barbies, Oriuwa said the brand didn't offer many Black dolls, particularly ones with her skin tone and Afro-textured hair. "Not only did I not necessarily have a Barbie that looked like myself in the field I wanted to pursue, but I actually didn't know any Black female doctors at all until much later on in life," she said.
"It would have been so pivotal for me to have had a Barbie that can really help to solidify more of my dreams and letting me know that it really is something that is tangible." Oriuwa worked with the Barbie team to design a doll that depicts her features accurately, complete with medical accessories including a white coat and a stethoscope.
"A part of this is also changing the narrative of what a doctor looks like," she said.
"I really wanted to be able to send that messaging back to the younger generation of girls to inspire them and let them know that truly any one of them can occupy this field or any field that they aspire towards."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 4, 2021. By Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press
A new Afro-Caribbean farmers' market has opened in Little Jamaica to show some love to small businesses in midtown Toronto.
Louroz Mercader, manager of the York-Eglinton Business Improvement Area, said the area has the largest concentration of Black-owned businesses in Toronto, if not Canada, and they have struggled not only with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic but also the Eglinton Crosstown LRT construction.
"This is a way for the neighbourhood to really show that we are reopen again," Mercader told CBC News on Sunday.
"It's been really tough for businesses during COVID-19 combined with the LRT construction going on at Eglinton. We want to show everybody that we're back. We want to bring the community together."
The weekly outdoor farm-to-table market, which opened on Sunday, runs on Sundays from July 4 to Oct. 3 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the area of Green P parking lot of 1531 Eglinton Ave W.