Actor Laverne Cox wants the first transgender Barbie to inspire kids of all gender identities to dream big
Gone are the days Barbie was a blonde-haired, blue-eyed adherent to traditional standards of beauty. Today, Barbie comes in all shapes, sizes, colours and identities. Mattel, the American toy company that owns Barbie, just launched its first transgender doll and she's inspired by Orange Is the New Black actor Laverne Cox.
Growing up, the Emmy-winning actor was shamed for wanting a Barbie. Cox claimed ownership over her story, went to therapy and years later finally bought herself a doll. "I went out and bought a Barbie doll, played with her and dressed her — it was a way for me to heal my inner child," she told BBC, adding that her mother later sent her a Barbie for Christmas.
The transgender rights activist shared why the doll was so important, not just for her personally but also in the big picture. "It's incredibly meaningful for me to have my Barbie doll for so many reasons," she said. "I hope that kids of all gender identities can look at this Barbie and dream."
She explained that playing with dolls was not a mindless activity but one that engaged the mind with stories, widening the realm of possibilities for a child. "The space of play, playing with dolls, the space of creating worlds with dolls is that space of dreaming. And now kids get to dream with a Laverne Cox Barbie, the first transgender Barbie — that is a beautiful space of dreaming and possibility."
The Laverne Cox doll is part of Barbie's Tribute Collection — released ahead of Cox's 50th birthday — that launched in 2021 and recently honoured the Queen of England in the year of her Platinum Jubilee with a doll to commemorate the monarch's 70 years on the throne.
Mattel has been in an evolution phase over the last couple of years and is working hard to be inclusive and realistically represent the population. The company has added different body types, skin colours and even launched gender neutral dolls. Additionally, it introduced a line of role model Barbies casting light on female astronauts and scientists, historic figures like civil rights activist Rosa Parks and pioneering sports stars, including hijab-wearing fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad.
"Barbie knows that representation matters and is committed to continuing to increase diversity across collections, so that more people can see themselves reflected," the company said in a statement.