There are finally more black men in Barbie’s world
Mattel now has male dolls in varied skin tones and body shapes
March 9, 1959: Mattel’s Barbie doll made her first appearance in toy stores.
June 20, 2017: @Barbie tweets: #TheDollEvolves.
Over the past almost 60 years, Barbie and her friends have reflected the changing demographics of the U.S. This recent revamp is about Ken — who now comes in varied skin tones and body shapes. Last year, Mattel introduced three new Barbie dolls with different body types.
Barbie’s first black friend, Christie, was released in 1968. However, the first official Black Barbie wasn’t released until 1980. Malibu Ken, the first African-American Ken doll, came along in 1982.
Growing up, my parents didn’t buy me Barbie dolls because they didn’t look like me. Aside from the Brandy doll and a few of Barbie’s friends of color, I only owned Bratz dolls, launched by MGA Entertainment in 2001.
It’s been 12 years since I played with dolls. As a child, I had a love-hate relationship with Barbie. On the one hand, I loved having Bratz dolls that actually looked like me. I didn’t need a doll with blond hair, blue eyes or features that were anatomically impossible for myself or any real girl to achieve.
On the other hand, all of my white friends had Barbie dolls. I remember feeling looked down upon; I wanted Barbie dolls because they did.
Now that I’m 20, I have grown to appreciate the Barbie brand for one reason in particular: They made girls think we could do anything. We all witnessed Barbie in different jobs — a police officer, a doctor, a zoologist, a ballerina. The list is gloriously long. Unlike her bosom-to-waist ratio, these were things we could realistically attain.
I hope the next generation of dolls continue to reflect the shapes, colors and hair types of the girls and boys who play with them. If I ever have children, I will allow them to play with Barbies, as long as they look like them.
Black women and girls, including me, are excited about the changes: