Mattel announced its newest addition to its “Inspiring Women” doll line.
Released in honor of her January 26 birthday, Black aviator Bessie Coleman’s Barbie doll will appear in her recognizable olive green flight suit, traditional lace-up boots, and an initialed aviator’s cap.
According to the press release from Mattel, they decided to adapt Coleman for the line because her work broke boundaries for women of color in the 1920s. Executive Vice President of Barbie & Dolls Lisa McKnight described her impact in the release.
“As the first Black and Native American female pilot, Bessie is a remarkable icon to inspire children everywhere to soar to greater heights. Barbie is thrilled to introduce the Bessie Coleman Inspiring Women doll and continue to amplify Bessie’s passion for encouraging people of color to pursue careers in aviation.”
Gigi Coleman, the great-niece of Bessie, said that carrying on the legacy of encouraging women, especially marginalized ones, to pursue STEM-related occupations was incredibly important.
“As someone who has dedicated much of my life to encouraging the 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. 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. We hope through this doll. More people will discover Bessie’s story and be inspired. Stories have power. I grew up on anecdotes of my great-aunt’s courage and look forward to sharing them in my upcoming book.”
The toy company also partnered with the non-profit organizations Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars and Girls Write Now.
Barbie’s “Inspiring Women” doll line includes other influential figures like Madam C.J. Walker, Ida B. Wells, Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, and Ella Fitzgerald.