Photo: Getty Images
  /  08.25.2022

Yesterday (Aug. 24), Mattel released a new Barbie doll honoring African American entrepreneur and activist Madam C.J. Walker. The doll, part of the Barbie Inspiring Women Series, has already sold out on the company’s website. Walker was born to former slaves on a Delta, Louisiana cotton plantation in 1867 and went on to become the first female self-made millionaire in America.

Walker gained notoriety for making hair care products for Black women. The doll comes with a “Madam C.J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower” accessory. Carlyle Nuera designed the figurine and said, “I wanted to capture Walker in a time in her life where she was selling her Wonderful Hair Grower, at public meetings and private home demonstrations – the true spirit of self-made.” Carlyle explained that she wanted to capture Walker’s true essence in her design. “Some of Walker’s favorite colors included rich purples and turquoises, so that’s what I put her in,” she added.

Yesterday, the official Barbie Twitter account shared their excitement for the doll’s release. “#Barbie is proud to introduce Madam C.J. Walker as the newest doll in the Inspiring Women line. With unflinching determination, Madam Walker was the nation’s first self-made female millionaire, creating a business that pioneered modern Black haircare,” they wrote.

Walker’s great-great-granddaughter A’Lelia Bundles was sure to lend her approval. “Thrilled to have @MadamCJWalker join the other role models of #BarbielnspiringWomen! An absolute joy to work with the Barbie team who took such care in creating this doll [and] who were super collaborative w/messaging and design,” she said in a retweet. Bundles also described the significance of Black children having Black dolls by sharing her experiences as a child.

“When I was 3 years old, my mother made sure I had a Black doll because she knew the power of images [and] role models. Having this @MadamCJWalker @Barbie is an incredibly lovely gift not just for me but for little girls who can see themselves,” she said. Bundles added that “the @MadamCJWalker @Barbie [doll] is a happy full circle moment” for her.


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