Barbie’s new doll celebrates APIA Heritage Month – and it honors a pioneer in Hollywood

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By Webdesk


Anna May Wong-Barbie

Image Sources: Mattel and Photo Illustration: Ava Cruz

A week after releasing its first Barbie doll with Down syndrome, Mattel has unveiled an Anna May Wong Barbie for Asian and Pacific Islander American Heritage Month.

Anna May Wong, who died in February 1961, was a pioneer in Hollywood. She is widely regarded as the first Chinese American Hollywood movie star and her acting has earned her international recognition. She became known for portraying Chinese Americans in a positive and accurate light during periods of widespread and dangerous prejudice.

While many depictions of Chinese characters in American films at the time were discriminatory and racist—and often played by non-Chinese actors in yellowface—Wong’s characters often offered a positive and non-stereotyped representation. She even turned down roles she felt were negative or unsympathetic. She was also the first Asian-American woman to receive a Hollywood Walk of Fame star for acting in 1960.

The Anna May Wong Barbie, part of Mattel’s “Inspiring Women” series, is based on her role in “Limehouse Blues”, a 1934 movie. The doll is dressed in a red dress and has Wong’s signature bangs. The image was approved by Anna Wong, Wong’s niece, who worked closely with Mattel to develop the doll, according to a statement from the brand.

While a doll may seem like a small step, giving children the opportunity to play with a Barbie that looks like them is immensely valuable. “Seeing is believing, and Anna May Wong’s courage and perseverance enabled generations of Asian Americans to see themselves on screen without stereotypes and typecasts,” Mattel wrote in an Instagram caption of the post revealing the new doll.

Mattel has released Asian Barbie dolls before, but in 2021 the company was criticized for not including a Barbie that appeared to be Asian in its Olympic Barbie doll lineup, according to NBC News.

The Barbie Signature Anna May Wong doll is currently available for pre-order at Walmart ($35); it’s also being sold at Target ($35) and Mattel Creations ($35), but preorders are sold out.

Barbie Signature Anna May Wong doll

Barbie Signature Anna May Wong doll

Buy now

Barbie Signature Anna May Wong doll

Barbie Signature Anna May Wong doll

Buy now

Barbie Signature Anna May Wong doll

Barbie Signature Anna May Wong doll

$35

from creations.mattel.com

Buy now





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