In a statement, Carlyle Nuera, the designer of the doll, said that Walker is an inspiration to many young Black girls, and that Mattel is honored to include her in the series.
Walker, a daughter of formerly enslaved sharecroppers, became a self-made millionaire entrepreneur by selling her line of hair care products and cosmetics made specifically for Black women.
“She’s been on my dream list of icons to add to our Inspiring Women series,” Nuera said. “She created opportunities for herself, and uplifted other Black women, making her truly an inspiring woman.”
She added said that Mattel worked closely with Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, author and journalist A’Lelia Bundles, on the project as well.
“My research into what Walker wore, as well as what was typical of the early 1900s, was supplemented by access to the Walker family archives,” Nuera said. “A’Lelia sent us rare photos, as well as cultural insight for what was ideal for Black women at the time and insight to what Walker herself loved.”
Among those featured in Mattel’s Inspiring Women Series include former first lady Eleanor Roosevelt, civil rights activist Rosa Parks, jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald, aviation pioneer Amelia Earhart and poet and civil rights activist Dr. Maya Angelou.
“It was a joy to work with Barbie on the design and creation of an Inspiring Women doll made in the likeness of my great-great grandmother, Madam C.J. Walker,” Bundles, the official biographer for her great-great-grandmother, said in a statement. “Their design team graciously welcomed me throughout all steps of the process — from hair development to packaging — to capture and celebrate the legacy of this trailblazing Black businesswoman. I can’t wait for a new generation to be inspired by her story and to tell their own stories through a role model who came before them.”
The Madam C.J. Walker Inspiring Women figure is set to retail at around $35.