Lifestyle

Lifestyle

March 9 marks National Barbie Day. The iconic toy officially debuted over 60 years ago at the American International Toy Fair in New York, according to Barbie Media. It wasn’t until 1979 that Mattel’s first African American “Barbie” hit the scene. It was available for purchase a year later, in 1980. The first Black Barbie was designed by Louvenia “Kitty” Black Perkins, a South Carolina native. As reported by Dolls Magazine, Perkins landed an interview with Mattel after answering a blind ad.

Even though Black Barbies did exist in the “Barbie-verse” prior to 1980, there wasn’t a stand-alone doll in retail. There were three black fashion dolls from Mattel, Francie (1967), Christie (1968), and Julia (1969), according to Dolls Magazine.

Mattel has since then produced dolls reflecting all body types and skin tones. They even revamped the historic Black Barbie in 2020. You may even remember dolls with the likeness of  Diana Ross, Janet Jackson, Halley Barry, Destiny’s Child, Raven-Symone, Brandy, and Nicki Minaj. Most recently, Mattel debuted the Disney Little Mermaid Ariel Doll, inspired by the movie featuring singer and actress Halle Bailey.

Here is a list of 19 influential Black Barbie Dolls.

  • Ida B. Wells

    The Ida B. Wells doll is a part of the “Barbie Inspiring Women” series. This collectible pays tribute to Wells, a journalist, researcher, and outspoken activist for civil rights. Born into slavery in 1862, Wells co-owned and edited a Memphis newspaper where she wrote about inequality affecting African-Americans.

     

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    A post shared by Barbie (@barbie)

  • Rosa Parks

    Barbie recognized the works of Rosa Parks in their “Barbie Inspiring Women” series. Parks was an activist in the civil rights movement best known for her role in the Montgomery bus boycott. In 1957, she moved to Detroit and continued fighting for civil rights until her death in 2005.

     

     

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    A post shared by Barbie (@barbie)

  • Katherine Johnson

    Released in 2018, Barbie recognized Katherine Johnson as a role model. Paying tribute to the mathematician who calculated and analyzed the flight paths of many air crafts. Co-authoring over 20 research reports during her career with NASA.

     

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  • Madame C.J. Walker

    Barbie honored Madame C.J. Walker with a collectible doll recognizing her success as an entrepreneur and the nation’s first documented self-made woman millionaire. She also developed ‘Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower’ in 1906 for African American hair care.

     

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  • Misty Copeland

    The limited-edition Misty Copeland Barbie recognized her as the first African American woman to be appointed as a principal dancer in the American Ballet Theatre.

     

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  • Gabby Douglas

    The Gabby Douglas Barbie doll features the likeness of the gymnast. Honoring Douglas as the first woman of color to win the Olympic gold medal in the gymnastics individual all-around competition in 2012. She also won the 2015 World all-around silver medal.

     

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  • Naomi Osaka

    Barbie named African-Asian American Naomi Osaka a Role Model. Osaka is a four-time Grand Slam tennis champion and the first Asian player to hold the number one ranking.

  • Dina Asher-Smith

    Barbie created a Dina Asher-Smith doll to celebrate International Women’s Day in 2020. Asher-Smith is the British record holder for the 100-meter and 200-meter and the British indoor record holder for the 60-meter.

     

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  • Ibtihaj Muhammad

    Barbie honored Ibtihaj Muhammad for being the first Muslim American woman to wear a hijab while competing at the Olympic Games. She is a well-known fencer and a member of the United States fencing team.

     

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  • Halle Bailey

    Halle Bailey is one-half of the due Chloe x Halle. Recently, she shared a Disney Little Mermaid Barbie that resembled her in the role of the upcoming movie. This doll will be available for purchase on April 23, 2023, according to Amazon.

     

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    A post shared by Halle Bailey (@hallebailey)

  • Laverne Cox

    Barbie featured a doll with the likeness of actress and LGBTQ+ advocate Laverne Cox. She is also known as the first transgender woman of color to have a leading role on a scripted TV show.

     

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    A post shared by Barbie (@barbie)

  • Zendaya

    Zendaya Barbie honors the actress for standing up for her culture. The doll resembles her iconic Oscar look that was criticized back in 2015.

     

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  • Yara Shahidi

    Barbie gifted Yara Shahidi with a “shero” doll made in her likeness. Shahidi was one of the 20 role models honored by the doll creator from their 60th Anniversary collection.

     

     

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  • Dr. Maya Angelou

    The Barbie Inspiring Women Dr. Maya Angelou Doll is a collector’s item. The Angelou doll pays tribute to her works as a writer, author, activist, and teacher.

     

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  • Ava Duvernay

    The Ava Duvernay Barbie doll sold out in minutes according to the Hollywood Reporter. Duvernay’s doll was a part of six dolls based on inspirational women in the entertainment industry. She is known for writing and directing movies and TV shows that explore the experiences of African Americans.

     

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    A post shared by Ava DuVernay (@ava)

  • Ella Fitzgerald

    Barbie created the Ella Fitzgerald doll to pay tribute to one of the most popular jazz singers in the world.

     

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    A post shared by Barbie (@barbie)

  • Bessie Coleman

    Bessie Coleman became the first Black and Native American female aviator and the first Black person to earn an international pilot’s license. Barbie created a doll in her likeness as part of the Inspiring Women Series.

  • Adwoa Aboah

    The toy company made Adowa Aboah into a Barbie. The British activist and model has a doll that is a part of the Mattel Barbie “Shero” collection.

  • Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock

    Mattel is modeled a Barbie doll after space scientist Dr. Maggie Aderin-Pocock. She was named as a Barbie Role Model for her work promoting science careers to girls.

     

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    A post shared by BBC East Midlands (@bbceastmidlands)

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