New Barbie Doll Honours First Black Aviator — Inspires Youth to Take to the Skies (PHOTOS)
Mattel is launching a Bessie Coleman Barbie doll just in time for Black History Month.
Barbie has come a long way since her debut in 1959. What once started out as a blond-haired, blue-eyed doll with impossible body proportions has evolved into a line-up of dolls celebrating the diversity of the world we live in.
Part of this line-up includes the Inspiring Women series. Introduced in 2018, the series is part of Mattel’s larger initiative to create more diverse toys while paying tribute to some of the greatest female role models in history, including Rosa Parks, Amelia Earhart, and Dr. Maya Angelou.
And now, the company has just released the latest doll to join the iconic lineup – Bessie Coleman.
Who is Bessie Coleman?
Bessie Coleman flew into the history books in 1921 when she became the world’s first Black and Native American female pilot. Despite facing racial and gender discrimination, she refused to be grounded.
Barred from flight school in the U.S. she took to the skies and headed overseas to France. There, at the age of 29, she was awarded her international pilot’s license.
Earning the nicknames “Brave Bessie” and “Queen Bess,” Coleman was notorious for her flying stunts. She often performed at airshows in the United States, delighting the crowds with her aerial acrobatics.
She dreamt that one day she would be able to open her own flight school and empower other women of colour to take to the skies. Tragically this dream was never realized. She died at the age of 34 during a practice for a May Day Celebration when her plane, piloted by her mechanic, flipped.
And while her life was cut tragically short, her legacy lives on. Not only in inspiring future generations to break through glass ceilings and shatter limitations, but now also forever memorialized as a Barbie doll.
The Bessie Coleman Barbie Doll
Mattel partnered with Coleman’s great-niece Gigi Coleman to bring the iconic Barbie to life.
Gigi, the president of The Bessie Coleman Aviation All-Stars, a non-profit devoted to STEM programming, is thrilled that her aunt is being recognized.
“As someone who has dedicated much of my life to encouraging 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,” Gigi said in a statement.
The gorgeous black Barbie doll perfectly depicts the trailblazing pilot. The doll features Coleman dressed in a traditional olive-green belted flight suit and tall lace-up black boots. She also comes with a brown aviator cap emblazoned with her initials, BC.
On the back of the box, Mattel shares Coleman’s inspiring story and a quote that reads: “I made up my mind to try, I tried and was successful.” – Bessie Coleman.
Barbie Honours Bessie Coleman’s Legacy By Taking To the Skies
Mattel didn’t stop at creating a doll to honour Coleman, however. To further celebrate the aviation legend, Barbie is also partnering with Girls Write Now. The non-profit organization works to break down the barriers of gender, race, age, and poverty by mentoring the next generation of writers and leaders.
Additionally, the company teamed up with American Airlines to celebrate Bessie Coleman’s birthday on January 26th. Together the companies gifted passengers on board Flight AA771 from Dallas-Fort Worth to New York with the newly launched doll.
The Bessie Coleman Barbie is more than just a toy. It is a symbol of inspiration.
Bessie Coleman bravely broke down barriers in the world of aviation at a time when it seemed impossible to do so. With her unwavering determination and passion for flight, she paved the way for future generations of women and minorities to take to the skies.
By honouring Bessie Coleman in this way, Barbie is not only preserving her legacy as an incredible role model, but it is also inspiring young people everywhere to dream bigger — and see their dreams take flight.