Barbie Dolls That Were Modeled After Celebrities, Inspiring Women
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and civil rights activist Ida B. Wells was added to Barbie’s Inspiring Women series in 2022.
Wells, who lived from 1862 to 1931, owned a newspaper called The Memphis Free Speech and Headlight, and she exposed the horrors of lynching and racism in the South through her investigative journalism. She was also involved in the founding of the NAACP.
Wells’ great-grandchildren helped Mattel create the doll, which will be available at major retailers by January 17.
“It’s an incredible honor to have my great-grandmother represented as part of the Barbie Inspiring Women Series,” Wells’ great-granddaughter Michelle Duster told USA Today. “She used her voice in every way she could to fight for freedom, justice and equality. And her work, as well as her story, is relevant and inspiring for today’s world.”
In 2021, Mattel released a line of dolls to commemorate frontline workers during the pandemic, including the woman who co-created the AstraZeneca vaccine.
Professor Sarah Gilbert, professor of vaccinology at Oxford University, was one of five women commemorated with Barbie dolls for their role in combating the coronavirus pandemic.
The other four women included frontline workers from around the globe. Professor Jaqueline Goes de Jesus is a Brazilian biomedical researcher, while Dr Kirby White co-created a reusable gown for healthcare workers in Australia.
Canadian Dr Chika Stacy Oriuwa is a physician, spoken-word poet, and social activist, while Amy O’Sullivan and Dr Audrey Sue Cruz are both healthcare workers in the US.
Mattel created a Barbie version of Samantha Cristoforetti, the first Italian female European Space Agency astronaut.
Last year, in celebration of World Space Week, which runs from October 4 through 10, Barbie created a Cristoforetti doll that comes with its own space suit and helmet, and even took it on a zero-gravity flight.
“The mini Samantha doll has already been on a parabolic flight so she already has some experience with weightlessness,” Cristoforetti said in a video statement. “I really hope that by showing that we can create some excitement for especially young girls … maybe … those images will kindle a sparkle of passion in some girl’s heart and that would be incredible.”
Cristoforetti will serve as commander of the International Space Station on a mission set for April 2022.
Tennis star Naomi Osaka was turned into a doll for Barbie’s “Role Models” series.
The doll features a tennis visor and racket.
Soccer star Abby Wambach’s Barbie wears her USWNT jersey.
“Playing with Barbies that may or may not have looked like I felt growing up, I think that this is a really impactful statement … If you’re out there and maybe your doll doesn’t look like how you feel, here’s another option,” Wambach said at the 2016 MAKERS Conference, where the doll was revealed for the first time.
Three-time Olympic ice-dancing medalist Tessa Virtue became a Barbie “Shero.”
The Barbie’s outfit is modeled after Virtue’s costume at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Sally Ride, the first American woman in space, looks ready to shoot for the stars as a Barbie doll.
The doll wears a headset, a NASA jumpsuit, and carries a space helmet.
Amelia Earhart’s commemorative Barbie is dressed to take to the skies.
Mattel released the Earhart doll in their Inspiring Women series.
Civil rights hero Rosa Parks was commemorated as a Barbie doll.
The Parks doll wears a hat, white gloves, and a grey coat over a floral dress.
Misty Copeland’s Barbie doll can strike similar poses to the groundbreaking ballet dancer.
Copeland’s doll wears a red bodysuit with red and orange tulle pieces.
Artist and feminist icon Frida Kahlo was part of Barbie’s Inspiring Women series.
“The Barbie Inspiring Women Frida Kahlo doll celebrates the groundbreaking achievements, heroism, and long-lasting contributions Frida made in the art world and for women,” the doll’s description reads.
Barbie released dolls of Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb honoring them as the first all-female team of anchors in the ‘Today’ show’s history.
“As we head into our 60th year, it is important that we continue to shine a light on female role models — or Sheroes as we call them — like Savannah and Hoda, to show girls they can be anything,” Lisa McKnight, general manager and senior vice president of Barbie, said in a statement. “Savannah and Hoda have modernized morning news and allowed more women and girls to see themselves, and their stories reflected on television.”
Barbie released a doll version of Zendaya’s look at the 2015 Oscars, complete with her dreadlocks.
Zendaya’s dreadlocks made headlines when Giuliana Rancic of “Fashion Police” remarked of the look: “I feel like she smells like patchouli oil … or weed.”
Zendaya responded by calling out the “outrageously offensive” stereotype on social media, and Rancic apologized on-air.
Mattel spokesperson Michelle Chidoni told TODAY.com that the brand wanted to recognize Zendaya as “a role model who is focused on standing up for yourself, your culture, and for what you believe in — that’s very relevant for girls.”
“When I was little I couldn’t find a Barbie that looked like me, my … how times have changed,” Zendaya wrote on Instagram upon the release of the doll. “Thank you @barbie for this honor and for allowing me to be apart of your diversification and expansion of the definition of beauty. Can’t wait to keep doing amazing things with you.”
Model and body-positive activist Ashley Graham made sure the Barbie version of herself wouldn’t have a thigh gap.
“Thighs touching, round hips, arms and tummy!! Thank you @Mattel and @Barbie for immortalizing me into plastic!” Graham wrote on Instagram when the doll was released in 2016.