By Allen Voivod
After becoming the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, Helen Keller attained countless lifetime achievements as a renowned author, speaker, educator, and advocate for the blind, deaf, and deafblind. Barbie® Signature is delighted to recognize this remarkable role model with the new Helen Keller doll!
The Barbie® Inspiring Women™ Series, which began in 2018, pays tribute to incredible heroines of their time. Barbie® celebrates Helen’s courageous determination with a collectible Barbie® doll created in her likeness, making her the 12th honoree in the collection. (Dolls for some of the previous honorees are still available in the online shop.)
"I’ve personally learned so much in depth about these women," says Barbie® Signature's Carlyle Nuera, designer of many of the Inspiring Women™ dolls, including the Helen Keller doll. "These dolls shine a spotlight on these women’s achievements and can serve as a discovery tool for kids and adults to learn about them."
When it comes to Helen Keller, her accomplishments prove her to be an extraordinary role model, and demonstrate that a single characteristic does not define our possibilities. Designing a doll to respect and elevate a person like Helen is very different from designing fashion or pop culture dolls, and it's a process that Carlyle truly enjoys.
"My favorite part of the design process for the Inspiring Women series is the research," Carlyle reveals. "Because of her achievement as the first deafblind person to earn a Bachelor of Arts degree, I wanted to capture that time in her life, imagining what she might have looked like and worn as a student at Radcliffe College in the very early 1900s. I found a few pictures of a young Helen during that time and combined that with research on women’s style during the Edwardian period."
The Barbie® Inspiring Women™ Helen Keller Doll wears a striped skirt, and a blouse with ruffled lace details on the sleeves and bodice. "I designed a high-neck blouse with puff sleeves, done in white cotton swiss dot trimmed in lace. I wanted something textural, something you could feel, to reference how braille is read," Carlyle reveals. "For the skirt, I went with a stripe in muted colors typical of Edwardian dress."
The doll also features a facial sculpt in Helen Keller's likeness, and her hairstyle, "is based on photos of her as a young woman, pulled back into a low bun with curls framing her face," Carlyle says. The doll body is articulated for endless posing and display options, and comes with a doll stand and Certificate of Authenticity.
She also comes with a book accessory with molded braille on its cover, and there's a bit of a story behind that as well. "It was a suggestion from the National Federation of the Blind. We worked with them to make sure the braille on the book was correct," Carlyle explains. "Because of the doll’s scale, the braille on the front of the book is technically illegible, but it stands for ‘Brl’ – which is the abbreviation for braille."
But the braille on the displayable packaging, Carlyle notes, is entirely legible for braille readers. The Barbie® packaging team worked with the National Federation of the Blind to include braille translations on the specially designed doll box, to create easy readability for sighted and non-sighted fans alike. It's also frustration-free, easy-to-open packaging, which is 100% recyclable.
The Barbie® Inspiring Women™ Helen Keller Doll is part of our Black Label® series of dolls and will retail for $29.99 in the online shop. When she debuts, there will be a limit of two (2) dolls per person, so as many Barbie® and Inspiring Women™ series fans as possible can add her to their collections. (This limit is subject to change at a later date.) Our previous Inspiring Women™ dolls in 2021, the Dr. Maya Angelou doll and the Eleanor Roosevelt doll, both sold out quickly. So don't miss your opportunity to get our latest honoree!
We need more role models like Helen Keller, because imagining you can be anything is just the beginning. Actually knowing that you can, through the example of someone like Helen Keller, makes all the difference! Now, it's your turn to inspire possibility for someone special in your life – or give yourself a bit of inspiration! Get the Barbie® Inspiring Women™ Helen Keller Doll in our shop today.
NATIONAL FEDERATION OF THE BLIND, NFB.ORG