Toy company Mattel announced the addition of the new dolls on Women's Equality Day
By Kate Ryan
NEW YORK, Aug 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Move over Ken, Barbie is going to be hanging out with some much more interesting and accomplished friends.
U.S. civil rights leader Rosa Parks and astronaut Sally Ride are the latest inspirations joining the Barbie Inspiring Women Series of dolls, which honors brave women throughout history.
Toy company Mattel announced the addition of the new dolls on Women's Equality Day Monday, which marked 99 years since the adoption of the 19th Amendment giving women in the United States the right to vote.
"These historical women broke boundaries that made the world a better place for future generations," a Mattel spokeswoman said in a statement.
Parks was a civil rights activist who became known for refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white man, a decision widely seen as sparking the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott that ended in desegregation of Alabama busses.
Ride was the first American woman and youngest American to fly into space in 1983 at age 32. After her death in 2012 it was revealed that Ride was the first known LGBT+ astronaut.
"The Inspiring Women Series pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time; courageous women who took risks, changed rules and paved the way for generations of girls to dream bigger than ever before," the dolls' product description read.
Each Inspiring Women doll comes with educational material about the woman's life and contributions to society.
The iconic Barbie has seen an evolution since her first appearance in 1959 in a zebra swimsuit and high heels.
The company has released a Barbie doctor, teacher and astronaut, among more than 200 career dolls in the last six decades.
Dolls honoring Mexican painter and activist Frida Kahlo, American pilot Amelia Earhart and NASA mathematician Katherine Johnson were released last year, the first in the Inspiring Women Series.
In response to criticism that the doll's seemingly unattainable body type, the company has released differently abled Barbies, plus-sized dolls, even a doll with cancer which was distributed for use in hospitals.
Mattel has released Role Model dolls including filmmaker Ava Duverney, ballerina Misty Copland and boxing champion Nicola Adams Obe, as part of the Dream Gap Project inspired by research that suggests girls as young as six lack self-confidence.
"By introducing girls to stories of women from all walks of life, they begin to see more opportunities for themselves," the company said on its web site. (Reporting by Kate Ryan, Editing by Chris Michaud
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.