By Brittany Hampton
In honor of her fiftieth birthday on May 29, Laverne Cox worked alongside Mattel to bring to life the first ever transgender Barbie. The Orange is the New Black star's move paves the way for more firsts in the doll industry. The actress, writer, producer, and activist was heavily involved in the creative process of her iconic Barbie doll. It's now available at Target, Walmart, Amazon and other retailers for around $39.
"Mattel’s main goal was to inspire young ladies to be anything you want out of life," the Emmy winner said. "In a sense, Barbie dolls are like an older sister that young girls can look up to and see that size, shape, sexual orientation, disability, or race does not depict nor determine your worth in this world. Everyone and everybody are worth it. No matter what."
The doll, part of the brand's Tribute Collection, is another first for Mattel. Since the 1960s, the company has tried to keep up with times by introducing dolls that reflected a changing America. While they have faced criticism for depicting unrealistic body standards, there's been a strong effort to create Barbies that would appeal to children of all walks of life. Here are a few of their most important dolls.
1962: Working Barbie is introduced with occupations such as teacher, singer, businesswoman, pilot and astronaut.
1968: Barbie's African American friend Christie hits toy stores. Previous dolls had darker skin, but Christie is the first to have African American facial features.
Ashley Graham (left) and Christie
1980: Mattel releases the first-ever African American and Latina Barbie dolls. More children can play as Barbie herself with a doll who looks like them.
1992: Mattel starts a new tradition with a "Barbie for President" doll, with updated versions in subsequent elections.
2000s: Barbie celebrates international culture with dolls from countries around the world including The Philippines, Morocco, Italy, India, and more.
2014: After receiving a petition from a cancer patient's parents in 2014, Mattel decides to make a Barbie Doll to aid young girls with cancer with profits given directly to hospitals. Additionally, an "Ella" Barbie had no hair on her head to support chemotherapy patients. The doll came with two wigs and one headscarf.
Zendaya and her Barbie doll
2015: Mattel honors Zendaya with her own Barbie Doll, complete with dreadlocks. The hair and dress were inspired by her Oscar look from the same year.
2016: The company creates an Ashley Graham doll to celebrate the plus-size model and body positivity.
Brittany Hampton is a freelance pop culture and fashion writer in New York City.