Art Therapist Barbie

Art Therapist Barbie

It’s National Barbie Day 2024, which commemorates the release of Barbie on this date, March 9th, in 1959! I loved my Barbies as a kid, and still do. They allow me to engage in creative play, imagining all sorts of people-centered scenarios. Kudos to Mattel for so many changes to Barbie over the years. There are now Barbies of different shapes and sizes, many careers, and more cultural variation (more needed though). My kid and I saw a Barbie who has Down’s syndrome at a store last week. And, Mattel recently released their version of art therapist Barbie and she has been the talk of the art therapy community!

It’s thrilling to see art therapy becoming a little more mainstream (if this Barbie release is an indicator). However, noting that Mattel’s version appears white (some say she may be more racially and ethnically ambiguous); has no appropriate practice setting; and appears to only work with one age range, I wanted to make some creative “adjustments”. 

None of these dolls are intended to represent me, rather I hoped to make Barbie more inclusive for my multicultural kid, and kids of all races, cultures and gender expression everywhere. I would’ve liked to have found a few more that are missing imo (like where are all the Asian and Latine Barbies?!?)

In my version of art therapist Barbie, any of the “adult” Barbies can be the art therapist or the client. Indeed the history of Barbie is that she was invented to be an adult doll, when all others were babies or children. Working on this did, however, bring out my inner child! The Barbie I found thrifting and ended up using to represent art therapist Barbie is actually art teacher Barbie, but I could’ve picked almost any Barbie. Her outfit has been changed, as have most of the other dolls (not pictured here, but viewable on some of my other social media).

Materials used: various Barbies, mostly thrifted (some borrowed from my kid), Barbie accessories, some from my 70’s childhood(!), most handmade for this project, especially the art supplies. Cardboard, paper, wood, glue, paint pens, catalog cut outs, and a variety of sourced materials. Art cart from Mae Mali Shop (Etsy). 

Thanks to my daughter, mom and friends for their interest and support of this project! Thanks to Mattel for the inspiration! To learn more about art therapy visit: