“Sade! Come and see the barbie I got you (in Yoruba, Nigerian mommy voice).” I ran and saw Jasmine (from the Walt Disney animated film Jasmine and Aladdin). And I was in love!
It was the only doll in the 90s that looked anywhere like me.
Dolls have always held a special place in a little girl’s heart.
Now, gone are the days when dolls’ skin tones were limited to white, olive, or tan. Gone are the days that her tresses were restricted to blond or brunette long and straight styles.
Dolls can come in all hues of brown. She has long hair and short hair; she also has straight tresses and kinky curls. You can also find dolls in plus-size and of short stature. Dolls are now for every girl and we are here for it.
Recently Barbie and Mattel diversified their doll product lines, however, there were other companies that saw the need and have been on that mission to give us dolls that represent young girls of color.
Movements like natural hair, Black Girl Magic, body positivity, and self-love triggered the consumer product industry to diversify product lines.
More children’s toy companies are designing dolls to emulate the global beauty of Black women.
These companies are on the mission to bring the hidden treasure to light and create human-like toys that empower our little humans to self-love with a doll that they can relate to:
1. Healthy Roots Dolls
At the intersection of black hair care and diverse play is the Detroit-based company, Healthy Roots Dolls founded by Yelitsa Jean-Charles. “As a company, our goal is to be representation for all children,” Jean-Charles, a Black woman founder expressed to Crunchbase News. Yelitsa Jean-Charles partnered with Procter & Gamble’s featuring in their My Black is Beautiful campaign in 2019.
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2. Ikuzi Dolls
Ikuzi which means “to teach” in the Igbo (Nigerian) language dolls come in different shades of black beauty with different kinky curly hair colors and textures. Each doll comes in a pretty African print dress and stylish shoes. The founder, Ozi Okaro, a Nigerian-American designer, created the dolls because she wanted her daughters to own beautiful black dolls that look like them.
3. Natural Girls United
Karen Byrd founded Natural Girls United with the mission to create ethnic dolls to help children recognize their true beauty. These dolls have hair textures of black girls and you have the ability to customize their natural hairstyles with choices like locs, faux-twists, kinky braided updos, and afros.
4. My Natural Doll
The mission of My Natural Doll is to build confidence and self-esteem by giving young Black girls a doll that looks just like them. The doll is 18″ tall with dark skin and dressed in an African Ankara print dress and she has real 100% virgin Afro Kinky African textured hair that can be twisted, braided, washed, and brushed just like Black hair. The doll was manufactured by Congolese hairstylist, Mushiya Tshikuka, who was inspired by her two daughters.
5. Makedaa Dolls
Ghanaian designer, Ehon, was inspired by his daughters to create these dolls when they were unable to find a beautiful black doll that represented them. The Makedaa dolls are uniquely designed where customers have the option to select their choice of African Ankara dress and they are given Ghanaian names.
6. Hello Nana Doll
Ghanaian kids, as well as Black children around the world, will now get to play with beautiful dark-skinned dolls with much appreciation to Nana Dolls. These dolls are clothed with vibrant African traditional garment and a perfect hairstyle to match it. The founders were inspired to manufacture these dolls after their trip to Ghana and learning about slavery and brave iconic African women who helped to shape African History.
7. HerStory Doll
HerStory Doll was created by Queen Dollylama because she wanted to give her daughter a doll that resembled Black women. Herstory Doll is an 18-inch articulated play doll with different brown skin tones and textured hair of different types. A very important feature about HerStory Doll is her joint articulation which allows children to use their own imagination. The company’s goal is to put creativity in the hands of the child.
8. Afro Curly Girls
Afro Curly Girls was created to make natural haired sisters and daughters feel strong, beautiful and empowered and to represent the beauty and power that is in curly, coiled and kinky hair.
9. My Brown Doll
My Brown Doll was created by Sigrid Wijngaards after she was unsuccessful at finding her granddaughter a doll that she could identify with and would represent her beauty. MyBrownDoll is the first Dutch webshop which specializes in Natural Hair Dolls.
10. Kimani Dolls
Kimani Doll was created by Dionna Douglas, as a hobby with her stepdaughter.
Each customized doll has an original hand-sewn outfit, tailor-made just for that doll. Every doll has its own one-of-a-kind look and has been personally styled by Mrs. Douglas.
Her goal is to represent diversity by showcasing a variety of skin tones, styles, and natural hair types.
11. Coloured Goodies
As a mixed child, Ellen Brudet was used to playing with white dolls. When her mother finally found her a brown doll, she was not interested in playing with it. It was her mother’s wish that one day her daughter would find a doll that she would identify with. In 2016, Ellen opened the very first Black doll gift shop in the Netherlands.
We are so proud of these companies and look forward to seeing more diversity. Will you be purchasing a brown doll?
12. Nalu Dolls
Follow this page to see beautiful, brown skin dolls being dressed up as some of the most iconic outfits from your favorite artists like Lady Gaga and Beyoncé.
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AfroBarbie Style 2019 Todas as roupas e acessórios dessa mini coleção foram feito por mim. A ideia foi reproduzir diversos estilos de barbies rolezeiras, me inspirando em pessoas, artistas e lugares. Essa é minha versão afro das barbies fashionistas. #barbiegram #ooakdolls #instagramdolls #afro #belezanegra #cachosdanegra #bonecanegra #feitoamao #negraslindas #negras #mulheresnegras #dollstagram #negritude #crespa #blackpower #pretas #culturafrobrasileira #culturabrasileira #culturafro #negros #neguinhadopoder
13. Malaville Dolls
Started by model, Mala Bryan she explains on her website why she created this inclusive doll collection, “My love and passion for dolls have allowed me to see the importance of dolls during play and also how they can be used as healing tools through play therapy.”
14. Miss Shabazz Dolls
These high fashion beauties are created by native West Africans. former fashion student, Maty Ndongo, and Bruno Kimsey Ouédraogo.
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Make it grow, your a Queen 👑💋 📸@maty_nd missshabazzdoll #dolls #afrodolls #afrobeauty #toys #fashion #africanfashion #madeinsenegal #handmade #curlyhair #westafrica #madeinafrica #crazyhair #afroaddict #fashiondolls #dolls #buyblack #africa #blackexcellence #melanin #melaninpoppin #love #yennenga
Cynthia Amo is the co-founder and CEO at AfricansGoneNatural, LLC a social media company that empowers women to embrace their God-given natural hair. AfricansGoneNatural also specializes in supplying high-quality fair trade, unrefined and grade A natural products from Africa to companies around the world. She has worked as an Auditor in the Financial Service industry for eight years for Big 4 Accounting firms like Price Waterhouse Cooper and Rothstein Kass (KPMG), and is currently working at BNP Paribas the se cond largest bank in the world. She is passionate about entrepreneurship and empowering women.