Friday, April 9, 2010

Of Black Babes & Barbies

by Liz
I've always been a fan of Barbies. That shade of vibrant pink still hits an instinctual pang of joy. Why did I love them? I now know it was the early yearnings of my inner interior designer. I didn't like baby dolls much and I didn't do what I now know is called "role playing" but I did build Barbie houses. Houses, and apartments, mansions, garages, tree forts, cabins, swimming pools, islands, boats - you name it - anything that I could imagine decorating or dressing.

Looking at Barbie now with her impossible figure lending credence to a life of Barbie botox & boob jobs, I'm caught between a mother's protective instincts and a deep sentimentality for my own Barbie time. Was she a good influence in my formative years or bad?  With one Better Homes and Gardens feature under my belt (see the May 2010 issue - last page!) and a career in graphic design, I'd have to say she was an early inspiration.

So, I've decided to bestow one upon my little girl and carry on the pink banner to another generation.

Next wrinkle; my daughter is black. And I'd like her Barbie to reflect her color, beauty and natural hair. So I set out upon a quest that has rankled millions of moms before me as I discover just how hard it is to find diversity in our culture; Barbie is no exception. Although each store has one or two pink boxes labeled "African-American Barbie," a quick glance shows most of them to be the same old Barbie in a different dye lot; long straight hair and all.

I've found two good exceptions, and the search wasn't easy. I wonder if Chris Rock has the energy to set upon the Barbie industry next?

Barbie Basics #004 (above to the left, found on is a long-legged gal ready for the catwalk with a tight short 'fro. And the Barbie South Africa (to the right, found on is truly regal with bronze lips no less!.

If only they had bigger hair!

Anyone else out there had better luck? Please let me know!

By the way... I bought the South African one. She loves it and named her "Tia." The "Pink Afflication" has begun in House of Robertson.

Below are some links to the Barbies mentioned above and new ones too as I come upon them. Enjoy!

1 comment:

The Youngs said...

You got me looking for African dolls! I found a few:

This girl defintely has the hair :) :

And this one was just adorable!:

Hope this helps! My family is working on our dossier to adopt a sibling group.. most likely with one girl so I favorites all of these :) I loved playing with Barbies when I was little (I'm 16 now) so I had fun looking through them all.