Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t…

30Sep09

That’s exactly the situation here. Mattel recently announced the launch of  So In Style, a new line of ethnic Barbie’s. This collection consists of three different dolls, Grace, Kara & Trichelle, and features more ethnic features such as fuller lips, a wider nose, distinctive cheek bones, and curly hair:

barbie headshot

Now, there is a reason I have titled this post “Damned If You Do, Damned If You Don’t…” Apparently, some folks are upset over the features these dolls have and their physiques. And I’m not really understanding. Here is the official 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.

Here are Grace, Kara and Trichelle. Not sure who is who though:

barbie sis1

barbie sis2

barbie sis

I think it’s a beautiful thing that these dolls are being made! For years centuries, Barbie had one look and one ethnicity. She has blonde hair (eventually brunette, and red head), she had pink lips, she had fair skin, straight nose, etc. Basically every Caucasian feature. And for centuries millions of people have complained about the lack of diversity Mattel displayed with their most popular and influential toy, Barbie. Now with the development of these ethnic Barbies, show casing the three most common hues, with the most common features, WHY THE HELL ARE FOLKS STILL COMPLAINING? Over a damn physique? I’m sorry to some who may be oblivious to the body types of black & Hispanic women, but yes- we have wide hips, and big butts, and big breasts, and wide noses, and full lips, and curly hair, we have all of that!

I, for instance, have a wide nose, full lips, full breasts, and naturally curly hair. I also happen to be light-skinned, and while I am slim, I still have common ethnic features. No, I don’t have a big derrière, nor do I have wide hips, nor is my complexion dark cocoa or chocolate, but I am obviously of African-American descent. I see pieces of myself, my friends, my family members, co-workers, colleagues, god-siblings, niece, and contemporaries in ALL of these dolls!

I am over the moon, that a toy as ICONIC and INFLUENTIAL as Barbie has made this step! Kudos to Mattel, you deserve a damn Peace Prize for this one! I grew up playing with Barbie, and I think when most young girls see toys like that, and see features this toy has, they develop a complex on how they should look. They see these Barbies, they see images on TV, and they see their friends, and none of them look like them. So they start to think, “Daddy, why don’t I have good hair?” My point exactly.

All this does is prove that 1) we are a BEAUTIFUL, diverse group of people, 2) our features are OK and we don’t have to change a damn thing about our self or take drastic measures to appear as what society has deemed beautiful, and 3) that black people are just never satisfied! Like seriously? You’re mad because ______? Fill in the blank. We are missing the bigger picture here! What did you want Mattel to do? Sit down with your daughters and make a wax figure of them, bring it to the lab, and make Barbie that way? Mattel used very common, popular, REALISTIC features of black girls and women. And if you forgot that you had full lips, curly hair, cocoa skin, full breasts, wide nose, and wide hips then I suggest you take a quick walk over to your full length mirror and take a good look!

“Oooh, that’s so stereo typical” STFU!! What would have been stereo typical or racist would have been if they had big pot belly’s (in reference to starving kids in Africa & other nations), short “nappy” hair barely passing their ear (implying that we don’t have hair), big bamboo earrings, popping bubble gum, or if their lips were pressed together as if having an attitude (referring that black women are always angry).

These are beautiful, realistic portrayals of what us as a community look like, and what our daughters, nieces, sisters, and cousins can relate to! For centuries, we couldn’t relate to Barbie, now we can!



3 Responses to “Damned If They Do, Damned If They Don’t…”

  1. 1 Tlee

    love this, cute story.
    PBB_Tricialee

  2. 2 Nikki

    I LOVE this Barbie. Why are people complaining? I could understand being uncomfortable with scantily clad dolls, but ALL barbie dolls are, that would have to be a company overhaul. These dolls are ADORABLE, I can’t wait to get my niece one.

  3. 3 Tara Decoda

    Exactly! People are just a** holes! I don’t see why any one would complain… can’t wait to get my niece one either 🙂


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