Another doll has been added to the Barbie Inspiring Women series. As the class of 2021 prepares to graduate, Mattel is honoring Helen Keller, the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree.
Keller’s lifetime achievements as a renowned author, speaker, educator and advocate make her an extraordinary role model and a great fit for the Barbie Inspiring Women series. The Helen Keller doll wears a striped skirt and blouse with ruffled lace details, inspired by Keller’s time as a student in the early 1900s. The doll also carries a book with molded braille on its cover.
For this new Barbie Inspiring Women series doll, Mattel teamed up with the National Federation of the Blind to ensure the doll and its accessories are authentic and held to the highest standards for the blind/low-vision community. The partnership included not only ensuring the doll was representative of her likeness, but also making elements accessible for the blind/low-vision community. For example, the package and the book the doll is holding both have braille lettering on them.
“Because of her achievement as the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, I wanted to capture that time in her life, imagining what she might have looked like and worn as a student at Radcliffe College in the very early 1900s,” Helen Keller doll designer Carlyle Nuera said in a statement. “I found a few pictures of a young Helen during that time and combined that with research on women’s style during the Edwardian period.”
Keller, who was stricken by an illness at the age of 2 and left blind and deaf, was also the co-founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and served as America’s first goodwill ambassador to Japan.
The Helen Keller doll will be sold at retailers nationwide and online for $29.99.
The new Helen Keller Barbie is just one of several dolls in the Barbie Inspiring Women series. The collection began in 2018 with 17 initial dolls that included both historical figures and modern women.
The first round of dolls included Amelia Earhart, the first female aviator to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson, whose story was depicted in the movie “Hidden Figures.” Other women who had their likeness turned into dolls included “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins, U.S. Olympic snowboarding champion Chloe Kim, conservationist Bindi Irwin and former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt.
Parks, who took a historic stand for civil rights by refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger back in 1955, is often considered “the Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement.” The Rosa Parks Barbie has a doll stand and comes with a printed dress, coat, gloves, heels and a hat.
Ride was the first-ever American woman to go into outer space and the first acknowledged gay astronaut. She worked as a flight engineer on the space shuttle Challenger’s STS-7 mission, launching communication satellites, and operating the shuttle’s mechanical arm. The Sally Ride Barbie features a doll stand and comes with a blue NASA spacesuit.
Angelou, who was an actress, dancer and poet, received numerous awards and accolades, including more than 50 honorary doctorates and the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was also the first African American and female poet to speak at a U.S. Presidential Inauguration. The doll bearing her likeness is wearing a head wrap and floral-print dress, and comes with a miniature version of Angelou’s 1969 autobiography, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” which made history as the first nonfiction bestseller by a Black woman.
Which Barbie Inspiring Women series dolls will you be purchasing?