This Astronaut Barbie issued by Mattel in 1985 came in two versions: African-American, like this one, and a blonde light-skinned version. Examples of each are both in the Museum's collection.
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, or 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 several different Barbie dolls have been issued dressed in space-themed outfits, the earlier versions did not offer realistic depictions of women’s participation in human spaceflight.
This doll and costume were donated to the Museum by Mattel in 1995.