Doll Accessory, Life Support Unit, Barbie, Astronaut, African American

Display Status:

This object is on display in the James S. McDonnell Space Hangar at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, VA.

Collection Item Summary:

This helmet is an accesory for Astronaut Barbie issued by Mattel in 1985. The doll came in two versions: African-American, like this one, and a blonde light-skinned version.

Invented by Mattel Toys co-founder Ruth Handler in 1958, Barbie dolls were conceived as a toy that would allow children to play with a doll of an adult woman, not a baby or child/companion. As such, Barbie dolls allowed their owners to act out the life of a "single career girl." In the history of this immensely-popular and iconic toy, the Barbie doll has taken on several aviation- and space-themed jobs, including several versions of Barbie as a stewardess, astronaut, and pilot. Even though female astronauts participated actively in NASA's Space Shuttle program when this doll was issued, her pink and silver lam'e outfit is far more fantastical than realistic.

Although three different Barbie dolls have been issued dressed in space-themed outfits, none of them offer realistic depictions of women’s participation in human spaceflight.

This doll and costume was donated to the Museum by Mattel in 1995.