The Madam CJ Walker Barbie Inspires A Determination To Achieve

Every child should know the first self-made female millionaire in the U.S. was a Black woman.

Much of Black culture is tied to the diversity of our experiences with our hair, and braided within these stories is Madam CJ Walker, an entrepreneur whose Black hair care product line revolutionized the industry and made its undeniable mark in history. Children of all ages should have the privilege of knowing about this legend of a woman, and Mattel is helping share her story by adding the Madam CJ Walker doll to their Inspiring Women series.

Walker is documented in history as the first female self-made millionaire. But it wasn’t just the financial accomplishments that reflected her triumphs. It’s that she did it in a time when racism forced Black people to stay segregated and women’s rights were limited. Walker, a Black woman, broke through all of those barriers.

“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.” — Madam CJ Walker

Her self-made attitude and message of determination rang true in all she did. Walker went on to create opportunities for other Black women in the industry and also used her platform to advocate for racial equality.

"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,” said  Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie & Dolls, Mattel. This doll line is dedicated to honoring female role models, both past and present, who have and continue to pave the way for generations of girls to know the vast possibilities of what they can achieve, even in the face of obstacles.

Mattel now uses resources through the Dream Gap Project Fund to positively impact Black communities so that girls who look like Walker won’t have to face certain obstacles to achieve their dreams.

The Madam CJ Walker doll wears a printed floral blouse and long turquoise skirt and holds a miniature replica of her original Wonderful Hair Grower product.

To accurately reflect her memory, likeness, and honor her life’s work, Mattel collaborated with Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, A’Lelia Bundles, who said it was a joy working on it with Barbie. “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,” she said in the Mattel press release. Bundles shared that she’s also most excited about the new generation of girls who Walker’s story will inspire to tell their own.

The Madam CJ Walker doll is now available at Walmart, Target, Amazon, and Mattel Creations, and retails for $35.