Her great-great grandaughter helped with the design to pay respects to the legendary entrepreneur.
Madam C.J. Walker has joined Barbie's Inspiring Women doll collection. Walker was noted for her entrepreneurial skills as she established her haircare and cosmetic firm from the ground up. She has been widely referred to as the nation's first recorded self-made female millionaire, per NPR. Walker was also noted for her humanitarian and social justice initiatives, especially her contributions to the NAACP anti-lynching movement. Walker's entire narrative is what her great-great-granddaughter A'Lelia Bundles wishes to teach future generations with the new doll.
A new generation of children will be introduced to the world’s 1st self-made female millionaire! Mattel debuted a doll created in the likeness of Madam C.J. Walker in its “Barbie Inspiring Women” series. Children will experience this SHERO in a new way!https://t.co/M7mRSyTmEW— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) August 28, 2022
"I hope that when little girls and little boys pick up the doll, that they will see something that's a little different than just a generic doll, that this is a doll who comes with a backstory," Bundles told NPR. "And as an entrepreneur and as a boss and as a philanthropist and a patron of the arts and somebody who cared about social justice, that they will perhaps see themselves and take one of those narratives." Bundles, as Walker's official biographer, collaborated with Barbie on the creation of the doll. Lisa McKnight, executive vice president and global head of Barbie and dolls for Mattel, said in a statement, "As a pioneer in entrepreneurship, philanthropy, and activism, creating the blueprint for the self-made American businesswoman and innovators of the twentieth century, Madam C.J. Walker is an embodiment of our Barbie Inspiring Women series," per USA TODAY.
The first woman self-made millionaire in America was Madam C.J. Walker pic.twitter.com/jDyevF5a8t— Vala Afshar (@ValaAfshar) August 26, 2022
The Madam C.J. Walker doll is dressed in a fashionable turquoise and purple gown and comes with a "Madam C.J. Walker's Wonderful Hair Grower" accessory. Previously featured in Mattel's "Inspiring Women Series" were Ida B. Wells, Ella Fitzgerald, and Maya Angelou, among others. Bundles said, "It means a lot that a child can look at a doll, can have a doll that looks like them. And it doesn't mean that Black children should only have Black dolls and white children should only have white dolls. ... But I like the idea of children really being able to have somebody who looks like them ... so that they know that they're part of the world."
Madam C.J. Walker, whose beauty empire made her the nation's first documented self-made female millionaire, now has a Barbie doll made in her likeness.https://t.co/k3t52f2IuS— NPR (@NPR) August 27, 2022
Bundles stated that she collaborated with Barbie designer Carlyle Nuera on the Walker doll's skin tone, hair, and wardrobe. Walker used purple, lavender, and turquoise stationery. She wanted the Walker doll to have a bright dress because many early twentieth-century photographs were in black and white.
Walker was also a washerwoman for many years, according to Bundles, indicating that she knew fabric and adored garments. Walker's hair care and cosmetics goods were a significant part of her legacy, so Bundles stressed the importance of showcasing those items as well. The accessory is based on the original product container. Bundles said, "We wanted to focus on the fact that she manufactured hair care products and to make the young people and the adults who love it think about her being a businesswoman."
The doll costs $35 and is available on Amazon and Walmart.com.
Cover Image Source: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images