Unveiled on Thursday a couple of weeks before the start of Black History Month, the Maya Angelou Barbie is the latest addition to the toy brand’s Inspiring Women Series, a doll line “dedicated to honoring historical and present-day role models who paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.”
Dressed in a floral print floor-length dress and matching head wrap, the Maya Angelou Barbie is refreshing to look at, as it has a Black, non-traditional Barbie nose and even features the warm, gap-toothed smile of the beloved author, activist, and teacher, who has received numerous awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom and over 50 honorary doctorates.
Accessorized with gold bracelets, earrings, and ring, the Maya Angelou Barbie also holds a replica of her 1970 National Book Award-nominated memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Packed in a special displayable box, the doll is now available in retail stores and online at the Barbie website, Amazon, and Target for $29.99.
“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 announcing the launch of the Maya Angelou Barbie.
Guy Johnson, Angelou’s only child and the executor of her estate, also issued a statement acknowledging the release of the Maya Angelou Barbie.
“My mother, Dr. Maya Angelou, was a pioneer and an activist with an invincible spirit for justice,” Johnson said. “Through her words and actions, she developed a unique ability to create deep connections with people around the world. She used to say, ‘I write from the Black perspective, but I aim for the human heart.’ I am delighted that Barbie has chosen her as one of its Inspiring Women. I hope the Barbie Maya Angelou doll will inspire new generations of teachers, writers and activists.”
Angelou joins a diverse lineup of women in Barbie’s Inspiring Women Series, including Amelia Earhart, Katherine Johnson, Frida Kahlo, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Billie Jean King, Ella Fitzgerald, Florence Nightingale, and Susan B. Anthony. The doll collection will mark its third anniversary in March.
Aside from inspiring young girls to chase their dreams, the Maya Angelou Barbie is also part of the doll brand’s efforts to fulfill its Commitment to the Black Community. Last year, following the death of George Floyd, Mattel and Barbie vowed to promote more Black voices, diversity, and inclusion.
In a statement posted on Instagram last June, Barbie announced that going forward, “more than 50% of future global role models honored will be Black, Indigenous, and Women of Color.”
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