Barbie has added award-winning author, poet, and activist Dr. Maya Angelou to their “Inspiring Women” collection
Barbie has come a long way in the last few decades. Once known for her blonde locks, impossibly skinny waist, and white skin, she has since evolved into a more inclusive, inspired, and empowered symbol of women across the world. In 2018, the brand debuted their Inspiring Women™ Series, offering more than just a doll that looks cute in pink bikinis and high heels while paying tribute to some of the greatest female role models in history. And, in 2020, Barbie made a commitment to the Black community, pledging to spotlight more Black, Indigenous and Women of Color role models. Now, joining the ranks of Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, and Ella Fitzgerald, Barbie has revealed their latest Inspiring Women dolls, none other than the brilliant author, poet, activist, and teacher Dr. Maya Angelou.
The gorgeous doll perfectly depicts the award-winning author, wearing a floral print head wrap and matching floor-length dress. She also carries a copy of her iconic, National Book Award nominated autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.
“Our efforts include a commitment to spotlight more Black role models who are female, and now, we are introducing a doll that honors Dr. Maya Angelou, author and activist who used her voice and unique writing style to connect with people and inspire generations,” Mattel said in a statement.
“Dr. Maya Angelou had a multi-hyphenated career and numerous awards and accolades, including over 50 honorary doctorates and a Presidential Medal of Freedom. Nominated for a National Book Award in 1970, her autobiography I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings continues to move readers around the world today.”
Barbie shared the news on their Instagram account. “As an author, activist, and teacher, Dr. Angelou serves as an inspiration for what kids can achieve when they speak up, stand out, and refuse to be silenced,” they added. They also shared one of her most famous quotes: “If you’re always trying to be normal, you will never know how amazing you can be.”
Other dolls in the collection include Katherine Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Sally Ride, Billie Jean King, Florence Nightingale, and Susan B. Anthony.
“Diversity and inclusion must be the foundation of all that we do. We will continue to stand united in the fight against racism and dedicate resources to directly impact the Black community, such as funding through the Dream Gap Project Fund, to help remove barriers that prevent the next generation from reaching their full potential,” they added in the statement.
As part of their efforts, to actively — not passively — fight, Barbie released a 3-minute webisode for children tackling the topic of racism. Titled “Barbie and Nikki Discuss Racism” it involved a discussion between Barbie and Nikki, who is Black, about the subtle and not-so-subtle ways that racism is experienced. Barbie also snapped back when Donald Trump Jr. made a nasty comment on Twitter about their campaign dolls, which was pretty epic as well.
We applaud Mattel and Barbie for their commitment to diversity and inclusion. Hopefully, other companies will follow their lead.