Barbie’s new Inspiring Women series doll honors groundbreaking pilot Bessie Coleman

Barbie's Bessie Coleman doll

Another doll has been added to the Barbie Inspiring Women series, this time in honor of an American aviator.

The newest doll celebrates the life of Bessie Coleman, the first Black and Native American female aviator and first Black person to ever earn an international pilot’s license. The doll is wearing a traditional olive-green aviator suit and tall lace-up boots. Her cap is emblazoned with her initials.

The new Bessie Coleman Inspiring Women Doll is available from multiple retailers, including Amazon, Target and the Mattel Shop. For ages 6 and up, it is priced at $35.


Barbie celebrated Coleman’s birthday on Jan. 26 by surprising passengers on an American Airlines flight with the doll and other gifts marking Coleman’s legacy and careers in aviation.

American Airlines was the first commercial airline to hire a Black pilot, and the flight with the doll was operated by an all-Black female flight crew including the pilots and flight attendants. Gigi Coleman, Bessie’s great-niece and founder of the Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars, was also on board.

“As someone who has dedicated much of my life to encouraging youth of all backgrounds to explore careers in aviation, my family and I commend Barbie for expanding my great aunt’s legacy in such an overwhelming tribute, with a Bessie Coleman Inspiring Women doll,” Coleman said in a statement. “Keeping Bessie’s legacy alive has always been a labor of love for my family, and we are proud to recognize her determination and accomplishments for Black women in aviation and continue to share my great aunt’s pioneering spirit with fans of all ages.”

American Airlines

The Barbie Inspiring Women Series launched in 2018 with 17 dolls that included both historical figures and present-day role models.

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 include former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, Rosa Parks, Sally Ride, Maya Angelou, journalist and suffragette Ida B. Wells, Helen Keller, Jane Goodall and hair care magnate Madam C.J. Walker.

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