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Mattel debuts Anna May Wong Barbie doll for AAPI Heritage Month

Barbie returns to the news this week with new doll 

At the beginning of April, the second trailer for the pinkest summer blockbuster ever dropped. Over the past few weeks, "Barbie: Teaser Trailer 2" has racked up roughly 20 million views on the Warner Bros. YouTube channel. Just seven days ago, Mattel announced the first Barbie doll with Down syndrome. Yesterday, the iconic toy company made the news again. This time it was for the release of another important doll. In honor and celebration of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, Mattel has unveiled the Anna May Wong Barbie doll. 

The early life of Anna May Wong

The United States had more than its share of growing pains. In the mid-to-late 1800s, the country was hostile toward Chinese immigrants. They suffered extreme intolerance, which could be described as racial hatred.

When Wong Liu Tsong was born in Los Angeles on Jan. 3, 1905, the tension was still prevalent. Her English-language name was Anna May. After being relentlessly bullied in her local school, Anna May and her sister transferred to the Chinese Mission School in Chinatown.

While she was growing up, Anna May's Los Angeles neighborhood was often used for filming. Consequently, she fell in love with moviemaking at a young age. When she made her film debut at just 14 years old, she created the stage name Anna May Wong, and that is how the world would come to know her.

Why is Anna May Wong such an iconic figure?

Anna May Wong triumphed over the discrimination and racism to become the first Chinese American actress who was a major box-office draw. This battle was much more complicated than merely beating out other actresses for roles. At the time, there were laws that prohibited interracial couples from appearing on screen. It was the norm for white actresses to play Asian characters. She also had to rise above the stereotype of "Dragon Lady" or "Butterfly" to make her mark in the industry.

Anna May's impressive career spanned from silent film to the 1960s and included over 60 film and television credits. She starred on Broadway, was the first Asian American to lead an American television show and traveled the world with her own one-woman vaudeville show. Anna May spoke four languages fluently and was the first Asian American woman to appear on U.S. currency.

Why Anna May Wong is the perfect choice for the next Barbie doll

Besides her cultural significance and all the societal challenges she overcame in her life, Anna May Wong was also a fashion icon. In 1934, she was voted the "world's best-dressed woman." She was also named the "world's most beautiful Chinese girl" by Look Magazine a few years later. Her striking presence and Hollywood glamour make her an obvious choice to be immortalized as a Barbie doll.

Best Barbie dolls from the Inspiring Women series

Anna May Wong

This is the newest Barbie, the trailblazing cultural icon Anna May Wong. The doll comes in an elegant red gown with a metallic gold dragon overlay and a sheer cape.

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Ida B. Wells 

This Barbie honors journalist and activist Ida B. Wells, who was a tireless champion for racial and gender equality. She's wearing a refined blue dress with lace details and holding a Memphis Free Speech newspaper in her hand.

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Maya Angelou

Dr. Maya Angelou was a writer, author, activist and teacher. Her Barbie doll is wearing a beautiful floor-length dress with floral print and a matching head wrap. She's holding her autobiography, "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings."

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Sally Ride

This Barbie honors Sally Ride. She was not only the youngest American to earn a place on the crew but also the first American woman to fly in space. Her doll is wearing a blue flight suit with Challenger and NASA insignias, and she comes with a headset accessory and removable helmet.

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Helen Keller

Helen Keller was an author, speaker, educator and advocate. This iconic doll was designed in partnership with the National Federation of the Blind. She's holding a braille book accessory and wearing a ruffled lace blouse with a striped skirt.

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Billie Jean King

Billie Jean King is the heroic sports figure who defeated former No. 1 ranked men's tennis player Bobby Riggs in an iconic "Battle of the Sexes" match. She championed women's equality and earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She's wearing her signature round-frame glasses and carrying a Wilson racket and ball.

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Rosa Parks

Rosa Parks is "the Mother of the Modern Civil Rights Movement." Her actions earned her worldwide recognition and many awards. This Barbie doll is wearing a floral dress under her wool coat. She also has on glasses, gloves, a pillbox hat and is carrying a clutch.

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Allen Foster writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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Image Credit: Mattel

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