When I was a little girl, which felt like a lifetime ago, most of the Barbie selections were white and if they were Black, they looked like white Barbies dipped in chocolate. But thankfully, the new generation of Black girls who love the iconic Mattel dolls have options and better examples that mirror their own reflection.
Nowadays, these dolls are stick-thin and blond, perpetuating a limiting and oppressive white standard of beauty. This new crop has real curves and thighs; fros, twists, and purple hair; and come in a range of skin colors from the lightest cafe au lait to the deepest of melanin. Not to mention, our babies can have dolls that embody some of our most cherished Black sheroes, such as Rosa Parks, Ava DuVernay and Hidden Figure’ Katherine Johnson.
Time is changing and these new additions continue to show that Mattel is looking to move forward, not back. This week, the company announced that they’re adding dolls that have vitiligo and alopecia to name a few.
The company has hailed its Barbie Fashionistas Line as their “most diverse” as it features “more skin tones, hair types, and body shapes than ever before.” the New York Times noted.
One of my favorites, giving us Winnie Harlow vibes, is the Barbie with vitiligo, a skin condition that causes certain patches of skin to lose its pigmentation. The disorder impacts 1 in 100 people and clearly, there was an audience for this doll because when Mattel announced the doll last year on Instagram, that post had the most likes ever, USA Today noted.
“As we continue to redefine what it means to be a ‘Barbie’ or look like Barbie, offering a doll with vitiligo in our main doll line allows kids to play out even more stories they see in the world around them,” a Mattel spokesperson said.
There’s also a new doll who is completely bald due to alopecia, an autoimmune disorder that attacks hair follicles causing one’s hair to fall out. This doll is especially timely and needed given that Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley revealed a few weeks ago that she too is struggling with the same disease.
According to Mattel, the Barbie Fashionistas line boasts 176 dolls with 8 body types, 35 skin tones and 94 hairstyles, “designed to reflect the world girls see today.”
And this inclusivity is paying off, literally. Even better? CBS News noted that their best-selling doll last year was a “curvy black fashionista with an afro hairstyle.”
This is the change we love to see.