Meet Grace, Kara and Trichelle. They are the new black Barbies released by Mattell in their latest So In Style or S.I.S line. Why? To fill a gap in the market for young black girls who for so long have been playing with dolls that don’t look like them.
They have fuller lips, curlier hair and other features that the company says more accurately represent African-American women.
Some have cheered the new dolls saying it’s about time. Others criticized them for not being black enough.
On this blog Seatle Smith is quoted saying:
“Where is MY doll? Where is the doll with the Afro? Where is the doll with twists? Where’s the doll with the lowboy? Where’s the doll with the dark brown eyes, and the flatter nose, and the voluptuous lips? Where’s the doll that has all of those things, not just some? Where’s the doll for little girls that look like me?”
The dolls were created by Stacy McBride-Irby, an African-American who watched her daughter play with dolls and wanted to create a doll that looked more like her. Ms. McBride-Irby says:
“My daughter loves the dolls. I’ve had dads thank me for creating this line of dolls that represent their little girls. These dolls are for girls all over the world.”
Now, meet Fulla or shall I call her Muslim Barbie? She’s the best selling doll in the Middles East. I Barbie like doll that is covered and wears a headscarf. I remember when I used to live in Doha, I wanted to buy a present for a family friend’s daughter. I was instructed to buy Fulla and not Barbie (because Fulla was better!)
Is this fair enough? Should the toys (in this case the dolls) that we buy our children reflect what they ,and what the people around them, look like? Or is that too much emphasis on racial and cultural difference from a very early age? Would you buy your child a doll if it looked more like them? Does a black Barbie make the doll more accessible or should we accept that Barbie whatever the colour just isn’t really real at all?
In tonic , Jac Chebatoris says:
“Let’s face it: there’s nobody — black, white or in between, that could really ever identify with Barbie, and that, we think, is a good thing. After all, she’s plastic.”