In January 2021 tweet, as the United States reeled from attacks and disinformation campaigns, another rumor gained traction: Claims that the popular Mattel doll barbie “has a girlfriend” went viral, spreading in screenshots across social platforms.
The rumor itself is not new, but it was re-ignited when Twitter user @kissevermore tweeted a screenshot of a 2017 blog post and brown-haired Barbie-style doll, writing “JUST LEARNED BARBIE HAS A GIRLFRIEND”:
JUST LEARNED BARBIE HAS A GIRLFRIEND pic.twitter.com/xBZ6U2hdOL
— sarah ↯ ferris lovebot (@kissevermore) January 11, 2021
On January 12 2021, a screenshot of the tweet was shared by the Facebook page “Petty Mayonnaise” and began rapidly racking up shares from there. Neither post directly linked to the November 2017 vt.co page, and the only title text visible in the screenshot was “Barbie finally has a girlfriend … what she looks like”.
Google Trends indicated a spike in interest for related searches on January 11 and 12 2021, among them:
- “Barbie girlfriend”;
- “Barbie has a girlfriend”;
- “Barbie gay”;
- “Mattel Barbie”;
- “Barbie love wins”;
- “is Barbie gay,” and;
- “Aimee Song.”
The November 29 2017 vt.co post (“Barbie finally has a girlfriend and here’s what she looks like”) notes that Mattel did not explicitly say that Barbie officially “came out,” however:
Yes, Barbie came out this week. And about time too. Official photographs of Barbie and her new girlfriend were featured on Mattel’s “Barbie Style” Instagram page, and they’re both pictured sporting marriage equality and LGBTQ awareness “Love Wins” T-shirts.
The post is captioned:
“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! #barbie #barbiestyle.”
While it doesn’t explicitly state that Barbie is gay, it’s made pretty clear — and in any case, we’re not going to challenge it.
View this post on Instagram
A caption read:
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! 💖 #barbie #barbiestyle
Song posted the same image to Instagram, with a caption effectively debunking the 2021 rumor in advance:
Me and @BarbieStyle supporting equal rights because #LOVEWINS.
Or as some of you have speculated, maybe we’re secretly dating. 🤗
P.S. 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! Can’t thank the entire @Mattel @Barbie team enough for letting my Barbie be ME! @BarbieStyle and I are wearing my Love Wins tee from @shoptwosongs where 50% of all proceeds go directly to Trevor Project to help the LGBTQ community 🏳️🌈
Had Mattel arranged for Barbie to “come out,” the dolls wouldn’t be “secretly dating.” Song revisited the collaboration in a post on January 12 2021, writing and attaching a two-minute long video describing her Barbie:
The story behind my Barbie
Back in 2017, I got my own @barbie and if I was going to get my own Barbie, I knew I wanted her to make a statement so I put her in a #LoveWins t-shirt that we designed. ❤️
A viral tweet claimed that Barbie “has a girlfriend,” basing the claim on a 2017 article, which itself was speculation. According to that article, Mattel did not explicitly state that Barbie was gay, but added that “we’re not going to challenge it.” At the time the doll was released, Song acknowledged that readers “speculated” that her doll was “dating” Barbie, but the doll was not released as Barbie’s “girlfriend.”