Sign the Petition to Make Funeral Director Barbie a Reality
Mattel’s iconic Barbie doll is a woman of many talents. She’s a barista and a beekeeper, a firefighter and a florist, a paramedic and a pasta chef … just to name a few of her wildly varied identities. Since she first appeared on the scene in 1959 as a bathing beauty, Barbie has been depicted in hundreds of careers, from art teacher to zoologist. However, one occupation is glaringly absent: Deathcare professional.
A Detroit funeral director wants to change that, and you can help.
Meet Sarah Brown-Derbah
Sarah Brown-Derbah is a go-getter, to say the least. A 2009 graduate of Wayne State University’s Mortuary Science Program, Brown-Derbah is the first licensed Black woman funeral director to manage Haley Funeral Directors of Southfield, Michigan. She also holds a degree in biology and secondary education as well as a certificate in forensic science.
Last year, Brown-Derbah was presented the Spirit of Detroit Award by the Detroit City Council for her outstanding achievements in the community, which include donating urns and headstones to families in need, distributing free PPE and hand sanitizer to seniors and the homeless, and educating local church congregations on funeral planning.
Brown-Derbah collects Barbie dolls, and according to media outlet Deadline Detroit, she has received a current Barbie from her mother each time she has graduated from a school. One of her most exciting additions to her collection was the centennial Barbie created to celebrate the historically Black Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., of which Brown-Derbah is a member.
Leading for change
Brown-Derbah is the perfect person to petition the giant Mattel toy company to add a funeral director Barbie to their diverse lineup. As a community leader, highly educated professional, and successful funeral home manager and director, she’s already serving as a role model for girls and women who want to make a positive difference.
“I am a woman funeral director and I would like to bring awareness to the contribution of women in the funeral service profession to little girls everywhere,” Brown-Derbah writes in her Change.org petition. “Barbie depicted as a funeral director would inspire the next generation of women funeral directors and be a sought-after doll for all women currently working in the funeral service profession.”
To support her request, Brown-Durbah points out the growing number of females entering into and excelling in deathcare professions. In 2021, the National Funeral Directors Association shared that in 2017, 65% of graduates from funeral director programs in the United States were female. On her Change.org petition, Brown-Derbah adds that in the past 40 years, the number of funeral directors who are women has jumped from 5% to 43%, according to the New York State Funeral Directors Association.
For Brown-Derbah, a Funeral Director Barbie just makes sense.
“It’s a good way to inspire little girls,” she told the Detroit Free Press. “Also, it’s a good way to pay honor or tribute to women in funeral service. Honestly, very little has been done for us with the pandemic and we work very hard. I don’t even think people really even notice.”
Here’s how you can help
Brown-Derbah’s Change.org petition, “Tell Mattel to Create a Funeral Director Barbie,” tags not only the toy company, but also retailers Walmart and Target as decision makers who might be swayed by an overwhelming response. Currently, the petition has secured nearly 650 signatures. Change.org suggests that gathering 1,000 signatures might place the petition among the platform’s recommendations. However, petitions with tens of thousands — or even millions — of supporters proved to be the platform’s most successful changemakers of 2021.
Several deathcare professionals have supported Brown-Durbah’s request, leaving comments like the following:
- I’m a funeral director, too, and I think this is a great idea. Broaden young horizons!
- I am a female funeral director … we need representation!
- I’m signing because it’s time funeral directors get their due!
- I’m signing because I am woman hear me roar we need to be recognized in all fields.
- We are changing the funeral world!!! There are more women funeral directors coming out every day!!! Let’s be PROUD!!!
- I believe every occupation should be represented. This will make children feel good about their chosen occupation.
Asking Mattel to add a Funeral Director Barbie to their lineup is not a crazy request. In fact, as Deadline Detroit reports, the Barbie careers line has recently expanded, and the company now offers an “Inspiring Women” line that includes Maya Angelou and Ella Fitzgerald.
“I have seen Barbie depicted as a teacher, nurse, doctor, and politician, Brown-Derbah says. “Now is the time for Funeral Director Barbie.”
To support Sarah Brown-Durbah’s petition, visit https://www.change.org/p/mattel-tell-mattel-to-create-a-funeral-director-barbie and enter your first and last name and email address. You will receive an email from Change.org to authenticate your email address; after clicking the authentication link in the email, your signature will be added officially. You can also leave a comment or a donation, although neither are required to support the petition.