Celebrated every year on the second Saturday in June, today is National Doll Day.
Most children play with a doll at some point while growing up. Many dolls have names, personalities, families, houses, cars, and a whole backstory. A child can spend countless hours in the company of dolls and their make-believe worlds. Dolls aren’t just toys but a great way for children to express their feelings. They also teach children the important lessons of friendship and sharing.
According to NationaDay.com, "Archaeological evidence shows that dolls are the oldest known toy, with the earliest dolls being made of clay, stone, wood, bone, ivory, leather, wax, and other crude materials. Excavations of Egyptian tombs dating to as early as the 21st century B.C. have unearthed dolls made of wood. Clay dolls have also been found in the graves of ancient Greek and Roman children. Just like the children of today, Roman, Greek, and Egyptian children also dressed their dolls in clothing and jewelry according to the latest fashion trends."
Mattel’s Barbie has become one of the world’s most popular dolls. Introduced in 1959, the Barbie doll owes its success to adapting to the ever-changing markets of various cultures and countries by launching Barbie dolls of shapes, colors, and sizes, and customization to the inhabitants of certain regions. Because Barbie has often been criticized for representing an unattainable beauty ideal for girls and women, the doll has evolved both in style and shape over the years. The Barbie brand also honors pioneering women from throughout history.
Here are some interesting facts you may not know about Barbie. Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts. Since her inception, she has had 200 different careers. Around the world, a Barbie doll is sold every three seconds, and March 9 is celebrated each year as National Barbie Day.
During 2022, there were some inspiring Barbie dolls unveiled, and this post celebrates them.
According to Mattel, "Barbie recognizes all female role models. The Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to the incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules, and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before."
TWEET THIS: Barbie's Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time...who paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before. ~@Barbie #DebbieLaskeysBlog
Barbie Inspiring Women Ida B. Wells Doll - January 14, 2022:
The Ida B. Wells doll depicts her in her late 20's as the editor and co-owner of the Memphis Free Speech newspaper. Born into slavery three years before slavery ended in 1865, Ida B. Wells would later become a formidable activist for civil rights and women’s suffrage. She started her career as a teacher and segued into journalism where she gained national prominence. In her late 20's, she became both editor and co-owner of the Memphis Free Speech newspaper. She courageously exposed the inequality and cruelty that Black people faced. She co-founded the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs in 1896 and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) in 1909 to collectively fight for freedom, justice, and equal opportunity. Ida B. Wells spent almost 50 years bravely challenging the status quo and has inspired generations of activists after her.
"The way to right wrongs is to turn the light of truth upon them." ~Ida B. Wells
Barbie Inspiring Women Queen Elisabeth II Doll - Released April 21, 2022:
Barbie celebrated the longest ruling monarch in British history, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, whose extraordinary reign saw her lead with an immeasurable devotion to duty and a life of service. Reaching 70 years of service, Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee.
According to Robert Best, senior director of Barbie design, "The gown is not a copy of any one dress she wears, but rather a gown inspired by the style and color of gown that she’s favored in royal portraits of herself for the past several years. If you look at those portraits or how she dresses for important events, she very much has a signature style and look, always a very simple design in white or ivory, which makes sense given that she must then wear all the accompanying jewelry and sash as befits her rank.”
Even the doll's packaging is royal, with a Buckingham Palace–inspired depiction of a throne room to pay tribute to the queen’s accession to the throne in 1952.
"To be inspirational, you don't have to save lives or win medals. I often draw strength from meeting ordinary people doing extraordinary things: volunteers, community organizers, and good neighbors; unsung heroes whose quiet dedication makes them special." ~Queen Elizabeth II
TWEET THIS: It's worth remembering that it is often the small steps, not the giant leaps, that bring about the most lasting change. ~Queen Elizabeth II via @Barbie #DebbieLaskeysBlog
Barbie Inspiring Women Vera Wang Doll - May 5, 2022:
The Vera Wang doll depicts her as herself, at approximately 50 years old. Vera Wang, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, is an iconic designer and businesswoman who grew her brand from a small bridal boutique into a fashion and lifestyle empire. One of the youngest editors at Vogue, she also served as Design Director for Accessories at Ralph Lauren, where she became inspired to design bridalwear with modern women in mind. In 1990, she opened her own boutique, creating bridal gowns and eveningwear designed to celebrate and move with a woman’s silhouette. She has earned numerous awards for her contributions to the fashion industry, most notable the Legion of Honor from France.
"Success isn’t about the end result, it’s about what you learn along the way." ~Vera Wang
Barbie Inspiring Women Laverne Cox Doll - May 25, 2022:
The Laverne Cox doll depicts her as herself at 50 years old. She is an American actress, producer, and LBGTQ+ advocate. Cox was the first transgender actor to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy for her role as Sophia Burset on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black in 2014. She also won the first transgender Daytime Emmy for Laverne Cox Presents: The T Word in 2015. She has gone on to appear as a regular character the CBS show Doubt and many guest roles and specials.
"It’s important with all messages, that you might tell you otherwise that you have it within yourself to say that I am smart, I am beautiful. I’m Amazing. I’m enough!" ~Laverne Cox
Barbie Inspiring Women Dr. Jane Goodall Doll - July 11, 2022:
Recognizing decades of dedication, ground-breaking research and heroic achievements as a conservationist, Barbie honors Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and UN Messenger of Peace, with a collectible doll made from recycled materials.
The Dr. Jane Goodall doll depicts her as herself at 26 years old as she set off to Tanzania to study chimpanzees in 1960. Goodall is considered the world’s foremost expert on chimpanzees for her 60 years of study in the field. Goodall’s favorite chimpanzee, David Greybeard, died in 1968. Joined by chimpanzee David Greybeard, Dr. Jane Goodall Barbie doll wears field attire and comes equipped with a pair of binoculars and a notebook. In July of 1960 at the age of 26, Dr. Jane Goodall journeyed from her home in England to the forest of Gombe National Park in Tanzania. Equipped with a pair of binoculars and a notebook, she fully immersed herself in the habitat of Gombe’s chimpanzees. While observing a male chimp, whom she named David Graybeard, she made the discovery chimpanzees fashion tools out of sticks. Her fascination with wildlife and her unorthodox method of field study led to her ground-breaking research and heroic achievements as a conservationist and humanitarian. Dr. Jane and her life-long work as a crusader for the ethical treatment of animals has been a tour de force of compassion and a benefit to our entire planet.
"What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make." ~Dr. Jane Goodall
Barbie Inspiring Women Madam C.J. Walker Doll - August 24, 2022:
The Madam C. J. Walker doll portrays her at about 40 years old, around the time she started her hair care company. The doll holds a small jar of her product. Walker is known as the first self-made woman millionaire in the US, a philanthropist, and social activist.
Madam C.J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 on a Delta, Louisiana cotton plantation. As the daughter of parents who were formerly enslaved and became sharecroppers, Walker would become a successful entrepreneur and the nation’s first documented self-made female millionaire. In St. Louis during the early 1900's, while working as a laundress to support her daughter, she experimented with homemade and commercial products in her efforts to heal a scalp ailment that caused hair loss.
After a stint as a sales agent for another company, she moved to Denver, married Charles Joseph “C. J.” Walker and began selling Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower. Together they traveled through the South and Southwest training “hair culturists” and recruiting sales agents. In 1910, they moved to Indianapolis where Walker opened a factory, a salon, and a beauty school. As Walker’s enterprise grew, so did her commitment to philanthropy with donations to orphanages, YWCAs, YMCAs, and Black colleges. As an advocate for social justice, she was a tireless supporter of the NAACP and other civil rights organizations.
"Don’t sit and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them." ~Madam C. J. Walker
Barbie Signature Music Series for 2022, celebrates Gloria Estefan - September 1, 2022:
Taking inspiration from her Cuban heritage and blending Latin rhythms with pop and dance beats, Gloria Estefan’s unique sound catapulted her to stardom, making her one of the most successful crossover artists in the world. Inspired by the iconic music video for Estefan’s chart-topping 1989 hit, “Get on Your Feet,” Barbie doll’s jacket features intricate golden detailing with jeweled accents and a dramatic, oversized lace sleeve. A golden waist chain accentuates her soft leopard belt, while bold thigh-high boots and golden accessories complete her look.
Barbie Signature Music Series for 2022, celebrates Tina Turner - October 13, 2022:
She went from singing as a young girl in her rural church choir in Nutbush, Tennessee, to becoming the legendary performer hailed as the undisputed “Queen of Rock ‘n Roll.” Barbie celebrates the unprecedented music career and journey of Tina Turner. She is a Grammy-winning, chart-topping singer, and one of the best-selling recording artists of all time. This doll commemorates her smash hit “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” and the design is inspired by the iconic outfit she wore in the music video.
What inspirational woman would you like to see transformed into a Barbie doll?
And more Barbie news: get ready for the new Barbie movie directed by Greta Gerwig and starring Margot Robbie, set to arrive in movie theaters on July 21, 2023.
Image Credit: Debbie Laskey and Barbie TV ad.