By Elizabeth Rose
The lifestyle influencer formerly known as Bunny Barbie announced she changed her name to avoid legal action from Mattel, Inc, the toy company well-known for owning brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels.
The TikTok star told Passionfruit she received a cease-and-desist from Mattel, asking her to stop using the name Bunny Barbie. Her new username is now @bunnyhedaya.
Bunny made the announcement to her 2.1 million followers in a TikTok on Dec. 15.
The content creator, who used Barbie as part of her name throughout the entirety of her social media career, said the letter came as a shock to her.
“Honestly, I was scared,” she told Passionfruit in an exclusive interview. “I am a normal working mom who has used Barbie as a surname for over 15 years like thousands of others, and I couldn’t understand why I was being targeted.”
Bunny explained in her TikTok that she has used the name on medical records and documents and wanted to protect her family’s privacy by also using it when she started her account.
Her account is verified, and it’s very difficult to change a verified account name without the risk of losing the blue checkmark. “I cannot change my name to anything else other than my real name, which obviously strips my family of privacy,” she said in the TikTok.
Bunny said she felt forced to reveal her real name so that she won’t lose verification.
Initially, she told Passionfruit the toy company agreed to help her change her username to something other than her real name but later backtracked, telling her it would not help her change her username.
“For months that’s what we agreed on, and I was hesitant to change in general but knew I didn’t want to fight a large corporation,” she said.
Passionfruit reached out to Mattel via email.
Bunny said Mattel previously sent her PR packages and invited her to be part of events, and the two are presumably never going to collaborate again.
“While I have not done anything wrong or infringed on the Mattel trademark, I understand and respect the legal action taken by Mattel to protect their brand,” she added.
Bunny is not the only influencer with a large following who used “Barbie” in her name, and she finds being seemingly singled out by the brand “confusing.”
“There is a verified account that cosplays Barbie with 20 million followers along with thousands of others so it’s really confusing,” she said. “I think with my platform [is] new and only two years old, and maybe they think I’m the most likely to have a long career?”
Bunny said she isn’t usually one to back down but that this year has been a rough year for her legally. Passionfruit reported in April of 2022 that the star accused former Real Housewives star Bethenny Frankel of bullying her online. Later in the year, she and several other influencers received cease-and-desist letters from Frankel.
“I do not want to further complicate things by refusing to comply with this request,” she said of Mattel’s cease-and-desist.
Bunny said it is too soon to tell whether the username change will have an impact on her career but wants to assure her supporters that it will “not affect the quality or content” she puts out on her social media accounts.