Entertainment

Barbie buyers plead for more Maya Angelou dolls

If Barbie’s mission is to inspire, her maker couldn’t have chosen a better model than Maya Angelou.

Last week, Mattel announced that the cherished poet and civil rights activist had been added to Barbie’s “Inspiring Women” series, which includes re-creations of Rosa Parks, Ella Fitzgerald and Susan B. Anthony.

However, the dolls are already sold out online, prompting pleas from fans to release more of the coveted collectible.

The new doll wears a printed fabric inspired by the traditional Ghanaian textiles Angelou wore, in the forms of a dress and the writer’s signature headwrap. The doll also has a “curvy,” more realistic physique — as is common with Mattel’s tribute Barbies. The toymaker wrote that Angelou is a “fitting addition” to the collection, calling her 1969 memoir, “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” “a gripping account of overcoming adversity in her early life.”

While Barbie’s new Maya Angelou doll is “beautiful,” according to fans, they’re complaining that she’s too hard to find.

Maya Angelou, circa 1970
This portrait of Maya Angelou was shot in 1970, a year after her landmark memoir “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” was published.
Michael Ochs Archives

“My 6 yr old daughter (whom I named Maya) was beyond flattered that the doll named after the great Maya Angelou was sold out in less than two days from its apparent release,” wrote @mo980298 on Twitter. “I’m sad I can’t get one but happy that so many folks are scooping them up!”

Walmart.com no longer lists Barbie’s Maya Angelou doll, though other “Inspiring Women” are available. Meanwhile, the $29.99 doll is unavailable for online purchase on Target’s site, which advises shoppers to check shelf stock locally.

“Disappointing that this first round has so few made and now are up on reseller sites at quadruple the price,” added @cwilliamsnyperry_LA. The coveted doll is currently being hustled for as much as $500 on eBay, well beyond the original price tag. “I hope that you will make more and sell at this original price. Also if you make more dolls in this line increase the number to accommodate purchases for personal use,” the fan said.

On Jan. 19, the @AskTarget Twitter account replied to the original thread, bringing some clarity to the issue. “This doll was just added to the collection a few days ago and has not been released to our shelves yet,” they wrote, directing followers to Target.com.

Users can sign up to be notified if and when the Angelou doll returns to Mattel’s online shop.

Maya Angelou dancing around a fire in a red dress
A young Maya Angelou posing for the cover of her one and only album, “Miss Calypso,” released in 1957.
Getty Images

According to Guy Johnson, Angelou’s son, it’s no wonder why a doll honoring his mom is resonating with so many.

“My mother, Dr. Maya Angelou, was a pioneer and an activist with an invincible spirit for justice,” his Jan. 14 statement reads. “Through her words and actions, she developed a unique ability to create deep connections with people around the world. She used to say, ‘I write from the Black perspective, but I aim for the human heart.’ ”

The toymaker also points out that Angelou became the first African American and woman poet to speak at a presidential inauguration, for President Bill Clinton’s 1993 swearing-in.


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New York Post

The New York Post is a daily tabloid newspaper in New York City. The Post also operates NYPost.com, the celebrity gossip site PageSix.com and the entertainment site Decider.com.

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