It was in 1959 when the world was first introduced to the first Mattel Barbie doll, and over the years, children everywhere could get a Barbie astronaut, surgeon, gold medal winner, pilot, zookeeper, architect, and so much more, (via Barbie). On International Women’s Day in 2018, the company started a line of “Inspirational Women” dolls to honor “historical role models who paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before,” per People. The latest in that collection is Helen Keller.
“Representation comes in all forms and we recognize that the blind and low vision community is often overlooked, with their stories going untold,” Lisa McKnight, Mattel’s senior vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls, said in a statement. “We hope that by introducing children to Helen Keller’s story of perseverance and determination, they will be inspired to dream bigger than ever before.”
One of the coolest features about the Hellen Keller Barbie is that the company worked with the National Federation of the Blind to make sure that the packaging, along the book the doll is holding, included Braille, (via Barbie).
The Helen Keller Barbie is joining an elite group of women dolls
For those who don’t know the story of Helen Keller, she was left deaf and blind after an illness at 19 months old. She became the first deaf and blind person to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts, which she received from Radcliffe College in 1904. Keller went on to be a powerful advocate for women’s suffrage and those who were deaf and blind, (via Perkins School for the Blind). Keller authored several books and she changed the way people saw the disabled.
Barbie has been working to create more role model dolls over the past few years with the “Inspirational Women” line of Barbie dolls as part of that effort. Each in the series is based on a woman from history who made the world a better place. The first ones released were aviator Amelia Earhart, artist Frida Kahlo, and mathematician and NASA employee Katherine Johnson, and each doll comes with educational info as to how those women helped change the world, (via PRNewsWire).
In a 2018 statement about the release of the role model Barbies, Lisa McKnight explained, “Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie and we are thrilled to shine a light on real life role models to remind them that they can be anything.”
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