HONOLULU (KHON) — It is an honor given to a select few: A Barbie doll created in their likeness.
Reserved for inspiring women like tennis star Naomi Osaka, civil rights activist Rosa Parks and now, Dr. Audrey Cruz.
“I never thought this would be possible in my lifetime!” said the 31-year-old internist.
Cruz caught the toy company’s attention after a viral video was posted online that featured Asian-American physicians fighting racial bias and discrimination fueled by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We want to make sure that people know it’s not okay, so I hope to continue to advocate for the Asian culture,” explained Cruz.
“As much negative aspects there are with social media, we all know them. But there are some positives to reach lots of people in a way that I never would have been able to, had it not been for this platform,” Cruz said.
Cruz’s parents immigrated to Hawaii from the Philippines. She was born at Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu.
The family lived in the islands for a few years before settling in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Cruz already fulfilled the “American Dream” in many ways as a physician, a wife and a mother to a toddler son.
But getting a Barbie created after her? The Filipina-American physician said her mother’s reaction was priceless.
“It was a really long squeal. It was, ‘I can’t believe it!’ in Tagalog,” she laughed.
Six Barbie dolls were modeled after Cruz and other real-life healthcare heroes amid the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s a continuation of Mattel’s #ThankYouHeroes program, which focuses on giving back to communities in times of need.
While the Dr. Audrey Cruz doll is one of a kind and not sold elsewhere, Mattel recently announced it will donate $5 for each eligible Barbie doctor, nurse and paramedic sold at Target to the First Responders Children’s Foundation (FRCF), benefiting the children of first responders.
As exciting as it is to have her very own doll, Cruz says real life is not as rosy. The fight to end the pandemic stretches on for medical workers.
“It’s such a bittersweet moment. We do have this honor because of our work during the pandemic. But also, there’s so much going on in the world right now,” she said.
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“Here in Las Vegas, we’re seeing more and more cases. I’m seeing a lot of cases in my clinic, and I’m seeing patients via tele-medicine and seeing them in their home so that I can keep a close eye on them. It’s very concerning. I truly do hope that eventually this will all pass. But in the meantime, we’re all ready to keep fighting,” she said.