Barbie, the Mattel doll that last year marked 50 years in the hearts and playrooms of little girls, has had a wide range of careers, including astronaut, teacher, office worker, doctor and NASCAR driver.
In recent years, the toy company has promoted the icon adult figure as an inspiration to girls to pursue their dreams. This year, it helped sponsor a mentorship program for young women with big ambitions. Among the 10 young ladies chosen nationwide to participant was 11-year-old Decatur resident Jazlyn McBride.
As part of a campaign in which the public was invited to help choose Barbie’s 125th career, people were asked to nominate a special girl to participate. Ashley McBride, Jazlyn’s mother, decided to nominate Jazlyn. “I know that all mothers think their little girls are special, but I felt mine truly is,” so she wrote the required nominating essay.
“Then I got a call saying Jazlyn was on the short list. Two weeks later we go a call saying she had been selected,” Ashley recalled. Judges apparently were impressed by Jazlyn’s ambition—to be the first female president of the United States. Jazlyn acknowledges, however, that since constitutionally a president must be at least 36 years old—a 25-year wait for her—it’s unlikely she’ll be the first. “I’d still like to be president,” she said, “even if I’m not the first woman in the position.” Before she becomes president, Jazlyn said, she’d like to go to Harvard and become a pediatrician.
Asked what her priorities as president would be, Jazlyn said, “I don’t like wars. I know sometimes we have to have them, but I would work with other countries and do everything possible to not have wars.” She said she also was interested in helping reduce homelessness, although there, too, she wasn’t sure she could completely irradicate the problem. “It’s like when you fall down and hurt yourself. You can’t make it all the way well at one time, but you can make it better,” she said.
In the mentorship program Jazlyn was paired with Marie Wilson, founder and president of The White House Project—a non-profit organization to advance women in leadership in all communities and sectors, up to the U.S. presidency. Jazlyn and Ashley McBride were awarded a trip to New York, where Jazlyn spend a full day with Wilson that included a tour of her organization’s New York headquarters, sitting in on a board meeting, led by Wilson and attending the EPIC Awards, The White House Project’s annual celebration of women and men who have enhanced the perception of women in American culture.
Recalling the trip, Jazlyn said, “I was too excited to sleep. I loved shopping in New York, meeting my mentor, going to the awards program—all of it.” She said she was especially thrilled to see the Empire State Building lighted in the colors of the White House Project—red, yellow and blue. Another big moment was a visit to a huge toy store that had its own Barbie house, displaying dozens of the Barbies that had appeared on the market over the years.
Jazlyn said she had been a Barbie fan before being chosen for the project. “I had tennis Barbie and several of the others when I was younger,” she said.
Ashley McBride said the program fully meets with her approval. “You have to be mindful of what you expose children to. Barbie has been a trailblazer. She has opened little girls’ mind to careers they might not have thought about before. I think this is a wonderful experience for girls.”