On Wednesday, Mattel debuted a doll inspired by a Black female trailblazer, Madam C.J. Walker. Walker is the latest icon included in the Barbie Inspiring Women series. Previously, the series honored Dr. Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Ella Fitzgerald, mathematician Katherine Johnson, and more. In celebration, Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, spoke about her ongoing work to preserve the mogul’s legacy.

“I’m thrilled that Mattel reached out to me for Madam to be part of this Inspiring Women’s series,” said Bundles, explaining that she’d been closely involved in the process over the past year. “We talked about what she should wear and the message we should have,” she continued. “And so I was in those creative meetings in terms of figuring out hairstyle and skin color…Those things are very important, and that’s what this Inspiring Women series is about, is really to be authentic. So I was thrilled to be a part of that.”

The Importance of the Madam C.J. Walker Inspired Barbie

The doll needed the right features – dark brown skin and the correct textured hair. Inside the packaging, which features a backdrop of Walker’s Irvington, N.Y., estate, Villa Lewaro, the doll holds a miniature reproduction of that product, which was the foundation of Walker’s real-life empire. However, Bundles wants the world to know her great-great-grandmother was more than just the beauty industry.

“There are so many dimensions to her,” she said. “We can talk about her as an entrepreneur, as a person who employed thousands of African American women, who helped them become economically independent; but also as a philanthropist and a patron of the arts and a political activist who was working for social justice. So there’s just a lot for a little girl to work with in Madam Walker’s story.”

Unfortunately, Black history, in particular, is under attack. Therefore, the creation of this Barbie and others like it holds even more significance for Bundles. “I love that Mattel is really leaning into this — especially at a time when there are some people who kind of don’t want our stories to be told,” she said. “But we have to make sure those stories are told … With the Inspiring Women series for Barbie and with [sister brand] American Girl telling those stories, Mattel has really committed to that…We have to keep that story alive.”

The Madam C.J. Walker Inspiring Women Barbie is available now at Target, Amazon, Mattel Creations, and Walmart.

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