Contrary to what many people believe, Barbie began to incorporate diversity into her characters if not from the beginning quite early in her existence. Barbie soon had a red-haired best friend, African American friends or English cousins, but apart from Christie and Midge who, although on and off, were with her over the years, we would have to wait until the 80s to be able to find representations of Asian ethnicities or representations of us Hispanics like Teresa.
Teresa was created as a friend of Barbie at the end of the 80s to be able to seduce those Hispanic families that in the 80s saw their economic income grow. She debuted in the 1988 California Dream line with the Hispanic facemold and later used the Steffie mold in the two Benetton lines that followed but in 1990 she managed to have her own mold. The funny thing is that her face was familiar, could she have been inspired by Yasmeen Ghauri? But who was Yasmeen Ghauri? She was one of the quintessential top models of the 80s and 90s, along with Naomi Campbell, the exotic of the group, Canadian by birth, daughter of a Pakistani father who never supported her career and of a German mother. Apparently she was discovered in a burger and from then on covers, catwalks and campaigns for Versace, Valentino or Chanel followed in those years when fashion wanted to make a shift towards diversity just like Barbie.
Perhaps we will never know for sure if Yasmeen was Teresa's inspiration, but what we do know is that Mattel designers and sculptors took inspiration from images from magazines or from pictures taken by themselves and one of the faces that filled the most magazines at that time was Yasmeen's face.
But while Teresa would have been inspired by Yasmeen, that wouldn't have been the only time someone had been inspired by her. In 1999 Jonathan Steele would break into the world of comics, a detective who lived in 2020 in a world where people had acquired magical powers and among the main characters there was a magician with a German mother and a Pakistani father named Jasmin with a look very similar to that of the model in question, who ran a spell agency in Paris with her friend Miriam from which a spin-off called Agenzia Incantessimi was made.
And, if the Jasmin of the comic physically resembled the model, in Teresa you can appreciate her physical attributes as well. Perhaps not in her eyes, rounder and more "cartoonish", but is appreciable in her facial proportions, his slightly elongated forehead, the distance from his eyes to his chin, the shape of his fuller cheeks and also the position of its mouth. Perhaps at the end things are better when they remain a mystery.
By The Barbiest