When Tween Girl was a small fry, I got on this kick of buying her collector Barbies, which I always said I wouldn’t do. It’s cruel to purchase a toy for a kid and then deny them the joy of shredding the box open, pulling it out in great excitement, playing with it for 15, maybe 20 minutes, then leaving it abandoned in some obscure area of the house because something better caught their attention. It’s part of the fun of being a child.
But there I was, all over that Nigerian Barbie in the Dolls of the World series because she was beautiful, she had on traditional garb, and, to top it all off, she had a little Afro puff, just like Miss Skylar did at the time. Now she done grown up and is too cool for them, which is too bad, because natural hair dolls are here! They have dreadlocks, like she does! They’re not homely or crazy-looking! They’re great and I’m excited. I might still buy her one, just for old times' sake.
Granted, these dolls have been out for quite some time and you won’t be running across them anytime soon in your local Toys R Us. In fact, I had to do a little searching around just to see where they’re sold, even though word on the ‘net is that they’re in short supply and high demand, which means they’re flying off the world wide web like, well, Barbie dolls. Still, their very existence makes me smile.
It should be mentioned that Mattel themselves aren’t the ones being this progressive. There are artists and doll designers changing the look and texture of regular ol’ Barbie’s hair and taking their hair back to their roots — so to speak.
Even though my daughter may be too old to really enjoy them now, I’m so happy for the little girls who can grow up seeing themselves reflected in the dolls they play with and adore. I’m not going to fool myself into believing that the long, straight-haired, traditionally coiffed Barbie isn’t still going to be the hot ticket on the shelves. I mean, that would just be lulling myself into a false sense of reality, and if and when I decide to do that, it’ll be over something much more fun.
But their presence lets little Afro-puff-and-plait-wearers — and girls with dreadlocks, like mine — know that their hair is just as pretty as long and silky strands, both on dolls and on people.
Does it even make a difference what kind of hair a doll has?
Image via Tabloach Productions