Barbie Honors Rosa Parks and Sally Ride with New Dolls: They Made the 'World a Better Place'

On Women's Equality Day, Rosa Parks and Sally Ride are being honored for "breaking boundaries"

Mattel Inspiring Women Barbies CR: Mattel
Photo: Mattel

Just in time for Women’s Equality Day on Monday, Mattel announced the latest additions to its “Inspiring Women” Barbie collection: Rosa Parks and Sally Ride.

The new dolls are part of Barbie’s commitment to featuring role models to show young girls that they can dream big and reach their full potential. Parks, hailed as the “mother of the Civil Rights movement” and Ride, the first American woman to fly in space, are honored among other notable figures, including Amelia Earhart, Katherine Johnson and Frida Kahlo.

“Each doll features authentic clothing and unique accessories, plus educational information about the honoree’s contributions to society, so girls can be inspired by their stories through play,” Mattel officials said, noting that the new dolls honor two women who made history “by breaking boundaries and making the world a better place for future generations of girls.”

After years of activism, Parks rose to prominence after she was arrested in 1955 in Montgomery, Alabama, for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger, even after the white bus driver demanded that she do it. The move sparked a bus boycott that lasted more than a year and served as a key moment in the civil rights movement.

Parks’ name and likeness quickly became a national symbol, with her story of courage taught to children around the world. In 2013, she became the first Black woman honored with a life-size statue in the National Statuary Hall of the Capitol, according to the New York Times.

Mattel Inspiring Women Barbies CR: Mattel
From left: Barbie dolls of Katherine Johnson, Sally Ride, Rosa Parks, Frida Kahlo and Amelia Earhart. Mattel

In 1983, Ride boarded the Space Shuttle Challenger for a six-day space mission as a specialist using the shuttle’s robotic arm to deploy communications satellites, CNN reported. At 32-years-old, she became the first American woman to fly into space — and the youngest American to do so. She traveled to space a second time a year later, making history yet again as the first American woman to travel to space twice.

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Both dolls are available for purchase on Monday.

Barbie launched its “Inspiring Woman Series” line last year on International Women’s Day, calling it a “doll line dedicated to honor historical role models who paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before.”

The line is part of an effort to close what Barbie officials called the Dream Gap, the idea that girls are less likely than boys to remain confident and view their gender as smart and competent. With that Barbie launched the Barbie Dream Gap Project, a global initiative to raise awareness around limiting factors that prevent girls from reaching their full potential.

“Barbie’s purpose has always been to inspire the limitless potential in every girl. The brand recognizes the Dream Gap and limiting factors reinforcing gender inequality, as barriers for girls to reach their limitless potential,” officials said in a statement.

“Barbie wants to remind girls across the globe and those around them that they can do anything by inspiring change to overcome these limiting factors,” the company added.

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