On March 6, Halle Bailey, singer, actress, and star of the upcoming live action Little Mermaid, excitedly took to social media to reveal the new doll fashioned after her portrayal of the character Ariel. “I have something really exciting to reveal to you all. I am gonna cry,” the star said in an Instagram video. “This is the new Little Mermaid doll! I am literally choking up because this means so much to me. And to have one that looks like me, that’s my favorite Disney character, is very surreal. And look, she even has my mole! See? And the hair, and the tail…I’m just stunned, so I don’t quite know what to do with it, but I’m gonna steal this and take it home.”
Disney also gave ESSENCE readers a special look at Mermaid Ariel. The doll, from Mattel, features an aqua and purple color palette, an elaborately decorated fin, and beautiful red hair. It will be available this spring at retailers nationwide and is able to be pre-ordered March 7.
Bailey’s portrayal of this beloved character will transcend from the big screen to the playroom, enabling children to expand storytelling opportunities through doll play, both in and out of the water. Mermaid Ariel will also be featured in an uplifting new Disney100 campaign, The Wonder of Play, launching with a special brand spot that rolls out globally today.
Disney’s research indicates that 80% of parents understand the importance of play for their children, but 3 in 5 have forgotten how to play, and 42% don’t think there are enough resources to help create an imaginative play. With Wonder of Play, Disney aims to inspire and encourage families to play together — creating new experiences and memories that include Disney’s beloved stories, characters and products. When children participate in imaginative play, it has been proven to spark imagination, happiness, wonder, and joy in kids, build resilience from childhood, strengthen whole family well-being, and reduce anxiety, fear and stress in children.
With her own Mattel doll, Bailey now joins an illustrious group of Black women who have been fashioned into an iconic toy. From Brandy to Oprah and Tina Turner, scroll to see the Black women honored with their own dolls over the years.
The Barbie® 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. Madam C.J. Walker was one of those heroines.
The Bessie Coleman Doll was released ahead of Black History Month 2023, honoring the aviatrix for her birthday on January 26.
The Mattel brand released its first transgender doll in honor of the actress last year ahead of her 50th birthday. Cox’s doll is part of the Barbie’s Tribute Collection, launched in 2021 to highlight cultural trailblazers.
As part of Barbie’s International Women’s Day celebration in 2022, the brand honored 12 female role models worldwide “with one-of-a-kind dolls in their likeness” and included the standout screenwriter, producer and showrunner.
Activist, actress, and scholar, Shahidi received her doll in 2019.
In 2016, renowned ballerina and trailblazer Misty Copeland received her doll.
Starlet Zendaya received her Barbie doll in 2015. The figurine modeled her exact appearance at the Oscars that year — a look for which she was controversially criticized because of her faux locs.
Then a superstar in music and on television, Brandy received her doll in 1999.
In 2015, filmmaker Ava DuVernay received her Barbie doll.
In 2018, Mattel made “A Wrinkle in Time” Barbie for the character of Mrs. Which played by Oprah Winfrey.
In October 2022, Barbie released the Tina Turner doll ahead of the upcoming 40th anniversary of her classic song, What’s Love Got To Do With It.