How Michigan’s Gov. Whitmer Barbie, known as Lil Gretch, came to be

When Mitzi Hoffman saw a photo of the doll, she wanted it.

“There has to be a way to get it,” the Royal Oak woman in her 70s wrote the Free Press, trying to find out if the Gov. Gretchen Whitmer doll was possibly for sale. If so, she’d buy it to put it on her mantle — and let her boyfriend’s 7-year-old granddaughter play with it. “Any ideas?”

Well, we checked. And it sounds like the doll, like the governor, is unique.

The governor’s office replied to the Free Press with a rather vague, and somewhat political, answer.

“We meet people where they are and use cultural moments to make change in policy, government, and politics,” Kaylie Hanson, the governor’s chief communications officer said. “This campaign will hopefully help show people that yes, girls can embrace who they are and do what girls do best: lead.”

Whitmer’s office also confirmed the backstory behind the doll: Aides decided to take a political risk by associating her with Barbie — the toy and the movie — and created a doll that looked a lot like the governor. The staff credited digital and creative director Julia Pickett with leading the project, and making a dark-haired, DYI-version of Barbie.

They dubbed her Lil’ Gretch and put her on social media. A Free Press report about Lil’ Gretch, and photos, prompted Hoffman to get excited. And Hoffman wasn’t the only one who wrote the Free Press asking where she could get such a doll.

Hoffman said what she liked most about the doll was the detail. Yes, she said, she leans Democratic, and yes, she likes that Whitmer is a powerful woman. But what at really got her, is how the doll is wearing a little necklace with a pendant in the shape of her home state.

“That was the final touch,” she said. “To me it’s such a nice symbol of leadership, women in power and women in politics. Besides me wanting it, why can’t they use it as a fundraiser for some cause that tells girls it’s OK to be in politics and to be leader? I got so going on it because it was so cute.”

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