To celebrate turning 50 on Sunday, Emmy award-winning actress and activist Laverne Cox got dolled up, Barbie-style.
Cox, a transgender woman who has been a pioneer in entertainment media for almost a decade, is now the first trans woman in the world to have a Barbie doll designed in her image. She unveiled the Tribute collection edition on the Today Show Wednesday.
As she revealed on the program, and again on her social media on Friday, her mother never let her have her own Barbie doll as she grew up. Cox said she spoke about this with her therapist, who recommended she should buy herself one, and the experience was transformative.
“And so I did. I went out and bought a Barbie doll, and I played with her and I dressed her,” said Cox in her video, which also shows the doll being constructed. “It was a way to heal my inner child.”
Mattel started selling the Tribute collection Barbie on May 25, and the Washington Post reported the Laverne Cox doll is among its top sellers on Amazon.com. It’s also available at Walmart, Target and online at MattelCreations for $40.
“Trailblazer. Icon. Advocate,” is how Mattel described Cox in it social media. “In honor of her 50th birthday, Barbie is thrilled to welcome @LaverneCox as the newest #Barbie Tribute Collection doll, recognizing her impact in TV, film, fashion, and the LGBTQ+ community. Additionally, we are proud to celebrate Laverne’s milestone birthday with a donation to @TransFamilySOS because everyone deserves to feel safe, seen, and celebrated for who they are.”
Cox talked with the hosts on Today about the timing of this doll’s release, not just for her birthday or with Pride month starting June 1, but because transgender children across America are under attack in Republican-controlled state houses and in school sports.
“I think this year, particularly, when over 250 pieces of anti-transgender legislation have been introduced in state legislatures all over the country, targeting transgender children, LGBTQ youth, that I hope all the kids who are feeling stigmatized when their health care is being jeopardized, their ability to play in sports, I hope they can see this Barbie and have a sense of hope and possibility,” Cox said. “If they don’t see themselves in this Barbie, I hope they know that they can create spaces where they do see themselves, where they are represented, because representation matters.”
On Thursday, Cox hosted “A Very Barbie Birthday” party on the rooftop of New York City’s Moxy Hotel, as Yahoo reported. Guests, many of whom also dressed in tribute to the 63-year-old fashion doll, walked a pink carpet. Cox modeled lifesize versions of her doll’s red ball gown, silver bodysuit and accessories, including high-heeled boots and silver earrings.
In addition to Cox, the Barbie Tribute Collection pays tribute to designer Vera Wang, comedy icon Lucille Ball and Queen Elizabeth II, each with dolls of their own.