With 40 new dolls, 7 body types, 11 skin tones and 28 hairstyles, it seems Mattel has caught on and created the most diverse lineup of Barbie and Ken dolls ever. They brought dark skin tones, cornrows and afros in the mix and even threw a hipster with a man-bun in there for good measure. Time and time again, many of us yearn to see ourselves represented in pop culture. With these new dolls, your children may now have Barbies and Kens that look like them.
The new diverse dolls made their world debut on “Good Morning America.”
It may feel a little too gimmicky — well, it probably is — but if black and brown children are going to play with these dolls, it’s good that they have a choice of getting something that at least feels like a representation of them. At the end of the day, we all want to be seen.
Mattel’s efforts to shake up the perception of their Barbie dolls continues! In the latest collection, which was released for Black History Month, the brand tapped a Black designer queen to create a collection that was truly inclusive, brilliantly Black and beautiful. The new line features a rainbow of Black skin tones and hairstyles that include afros, braids, and women in wheelchairs.
For their latest collection, the brand behind Barbie collaborated with creative consultant Shiona Turini.
The Bermudan stylist and costumer designer for the 2019 film “Queen & Slim” came up with over 20 looks for the new collection.
“I’ll never forget being in New York as a young black girl and finding a Black Barbie, and especially a Black Barbie birthday set,” Turini told People magazine in a recent interview. “Barbie is a historic brand that was inclusive before it was trendy.”
Turini paired up the original look with a Barbie in an afro.
“That was the basis for this image,” Turini explained in the interview. “We decided to have her on her throne with the other dolls dressed in her likeness, also in the red to support her.”
According to Turni, every aspect of the collection drew inspiration from Black activists.
Turini says she also found inspiration in the film Queen & Slim for the outfits in this most recent collection.
“When I worked on the movie ‘Queen & Slim’ the stand-out, ‘hero’ look for me was mixing snakeskin and tiger prints in the same look,” Barbie Style explained. “The contrast of the two patterns completely subverts expectations, and I was excited to use the same formula on pieces such as Barbie’s thigh-high boots to break the traditional mold of dolls I had grown up playing with.”
The maker of the iconic Barbie doll just announced the launch of a lineup of diverse dolls featuring new skin tones, wheelchairs, and body types. The latest Barbie additions are a doll with the skin condition Vitiligo and another with a gold prosthetic leg —and we’re here for all this diversity.
“More skin tones! More body types! More unique looks” read the caption.
The new Barbie pals doll be part of the Fashionistas collection and it’s being labeled as the American toy company’s most diverse line.
“What makes us different, makes us beautiful”
The line features dolls with vitiligo, no hair, darker skin tones, in a wheelchair and a wide range of body types. These dolls are part of Barbie’s 2020 releases for its Fashionistas line, which, over the past five years, has introduced more than 170 looks showcasing different identities around the world in hopes of representing global diversity and inclusivity, according to a press release from Mattel.
To create the doll with vitiligo, Barbie worked with a dermatologist to ensure the condition was accurately portrayed. Viitiligo causes patches of skin to lose their pigment. Mattel said in a statement that a prototype of the vitiligo toy, which debuted on the Barbie Instagram page last year, became its most “liked” post ever.
Speaking of the Barbie with no hair, the company said:
“If a girl is experiencing hair loss for any reason, she can see herself reflected in the line.”
Last year, a doll with a prosthetic leg and another with a wheelchair joined the Fashionistas range.
The then 12-year-old Jordan Reeves, who co-founded the nonprofit Born Just Right — which develops “creative solutions that help kids with disabilities live a more enjoyable life” — helped inspire a doll with a prosthetic limb. Barbie’s 2019 Fashionistas line was also the first time it included a doll that uses a wheelchair. Other dolls in the 2019 Fashionistas line offered a variety of appearances, including braided hair texture and more realistic body types (smaller bust, less defined waist and more defined arms).
On Twitter people are happy about the new dolls.
Some are excited to see themselves reflected in Barbie form for the first time. “Heeeyy! That’s pretty sweet. I’ve had #vitiligo since I was little, and no one knew what it was,” wrote one Twitter user, “In recent years, I’ve seen high fashion models with it, and now this.. very cool.”
People with Vitiligo are finally feeling seen
Visibility for vitiligo is getting better thanks to models like Winnie Harlow and Amy Deanna. Due in large part to recent exposure to vitiligo through mainstream media, general understanding about and attitudes toward this condition are changing.
Perhaps the most well-known current face of vitiligo is Chantelle Brown-Young
The black fashion model, activist, and vitiligo spokesperson is also known professionally as Winnie Harlow. Winnie was diagnosed with vitiligo in childhood, and she revealed she was teased and bullied and at one point contemplated suicide. “The continuous harassment and the despair that [vitiligo] brought on my life was so unbearably dehumanizing that I wanted to kill myself,” she disclosed.
After competing on America’s Next Top Model in 2014, Winnie Harlow became a household name.
Winnie redefined global standards of beauty and, in her own words, accepting the differences that make us unique and authentic. She went on to speak at the Dove Self-Esteem Project panel at the 2015 Women in the World London Summit and was presented with the Role Model award at the Portuguese GQ Men of the Year event that same year.
Fashion brand Missguided unveiled a diverse range of mannequins in 2018—including one with Vitiligo.
The collection of mannequins included female figures of different ethnicities, in addition to highlighting skin conditions such as stretch marks and vitiligo.
Mattel is leading the charge for representation in the toy industry.
The American toy maker has incorporated more diversity in its Barbie range by offering dolls with different skin shades, eye colors, hairstyles and clothing. In 2017, the company introduced the first Barbie to wear a hijab.
Previously, Barbie dolls have drawn criticism for upholding a slim, white, domestic ideal. In 2019 though, more than half its doll selections were inclusive. According to a Mattel spokesperson, since 2015, the more than 170 new looks for Barbie have included 5 body types, 22 skin tones, 76 hair styles, 94 hair colors, and 13 eye colors.
Consumers have largely responded to these choices enthusiastically.
A curvy black Fashionista with an afro hairstyle was the top-selling doll during almost every week in 2019. “We are proud that Barbie is the most diverse doll line on the market that continues to evolve to better reflect the world girls see around them,” says Lisa McKnight, senior vice president and global head of Barbie and its dolls portfolio.
Share this story with all of your friends by tapping our little share buttons below!