By Lori Perkins
As a Barbie aficionado and collector (I collect super hero and super villain Barbie dolls), I’m thrilled to see these two new dolls being offered – the Miami disco queen of the 80’s (with some awesome leopard boots) and Madam C.J. Walker, the Harlem beauty business millionaire.
According to the Barbie website, the September first release of the Gloria Estefan doll, takes “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.” She’s $55.
The CJ Walker doll is part of Barbie’s “Inspiring Women” collection which includes Maya Angelou, Rosa Parks, Ida B. Wells, and Queen Elizabeth. According to their website, “The Barbie Inspiring Women™ Series pays tribute to 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. Madam C. J. Walker was born Sarah Breedlove in 1867 on a Delta, Louisiana cotton plantation. 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. Barbie® honors her unflinching determination with a collectible doll, sculpted to her likeness. Complete with a ‘Madam C.J. Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower’ accessory.” The CJ Walker Barbie sells for $35.
I do wonder just who these dolls are targeted to, and how many are selling. I mean, Gloria Estefan is glorious, but it’s been 40 years since her reign, and she’s not currently touring and there’s no new documentary series in development that I know about. There’s a 2020 series about CJ Walker, but it’s already two years old (on Netflix, Self Made). But these are great tribute dolls, and even if they are part of some performative p.r. diversity roll out, I’m glad they’ve arrived. Now they need to re-release the Nichelle Nichols Barbie and a Selena.