New Black Barbies: Hit or Miss?

As a little girl I was a lover of all things Barbie. Though Mattel had made strides by the 80s to be more culturally inclusive, I often felt that the most fabulous Barbies were Caucasian, and the African American Barbies were often a sidekick (ie the Christie dolls). As if they were created as an afterthought. This is why I relished the African American Holiday Barbie I knew I would receive every Christmas. She was the most glamorous of all the Barbie's I owned, and her fabulousness seemed to be reserved for once a year.

Well now little Black girls may not have to wait until Christmas for a trendy Black Barbie . This week Mattel announced the release of a new line of Black Barbies called So In Style. The line is meant to be a more accurate representation of Black facial features and body types. Here's a bit of the press release:

So In Style™ (S.I.S.™) was developed and inspired by Barbie® designer of 12 years, Stacey McBride-Irby, an African-American mother of two who wanted to create a line of dolls more reflective of her daughter and community.

The So In Style™ line features Grace™, Kara™ and Trichelle™ dolls, three best friends who are all about fashion, fun and friendship. Each of the dolls features its own unique personality and style and reflects one of three varying skin tones. The S.I.S.™ line also introduces a mentoring theme; each doll is accompanied by a smaller doll or “little sister” and has different interests – from music and math to science and drill team. The big and little sister dolls are meant to introduce and inspire girls with mentoring themes.


“I believe that a happy inspired childhood creates happy, inspired, powerful women,” said McBride-Irby. “I want my new So In Style dolls to not only be an authentic representation of my community and culture, but to also encourage girls to be inspired and dream big.”


As soon as I read this, I was slightly suspicious of what these "accurate" faces and bodies would look like. Apparently some Black parents aren't too pleased with the idea of the dolls and feel that they perpetuate stereotypes. I since seen pics of the dolls and now I'm not sure what I think.

Take a look for yourself:



The dolls are cute and all, and I can tell an obvious difference in their faces (and possibly their hips?). I could be reaching here, but I'm not crazy about the little dolls. I know they're supposed to be like little sisters and all, but these dolls look like they're toting around babies. Riiight.

I don't know, what do you think? Do you feel these dolls are any more "accurate" than traditional Barbies, or do they still look the same to you? I'm dying to know!

Source: TheYBF

4 comments:

Arionne said...

I have to say that I like the dolls upon first glance and I do like the idea/inspiration behind the dolls. My only point of critique, however, is that the dolls still don't collectively represent a vast array of shapes and sizes of black women. I notice that they have hips, but they still have small waists. I'm not mad at the Beyonce weave one doll has because that is part of the African American woman's look list. But some of us rock natural hair! Some of us are pear-shaped. We do not all have thin waists. I mean if you're gonna do something, go full force. I do applaud my sister for taking a stand, but I would push her to go even further. Because if all little black girls see are super thin dolls, what will the "big-boned" girls think about their own bodies? I'm just saying...

October 2, 2009 at 5:11 PM
Anonymous said...

Also, I would like to say that you raise an interesting point Amber about the "little sisters" seeming like babies. That's okay though if you think about it. When you play with dolls having kid dolls are cool when you're playing "house" with your dolls. Remember "Skipper" from the Barnie collection? But I say she should make some male dolls also to balance things out. I mean Barbie had Ken. Why can't Trichelle have Hakim? lol (I know Hakim is so stero-typical) (Just making a joke. lol)

October 2, 2009 at 5:14 PM
Rate Your Hairdresser said...

They're cute, but a Barbie Doll will NEVER accurately represent a real woman...white, black or otherwise. They're cute, but they still represent an unachievable stereotype.

October 3, 2009 at 2:09 PM
Anonymous said...

Yess they were wrong for adding the "little" sister....it looks to me like a teen mom doll. But i dont think its unfair that they arent plus sized or full figured. None of the other race dolls are. Plus what gealthy message would we be sending to our children? im just saying....

March 29, 2011 at 10:11 AM

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