Barbies have always held a special place in a little girl’s heart. Gone are the days when Barbie’s skin tone only came in a white and she had blond or brunette hair. Barbie is now a sistah in many hues of brown from brown sugar to coffee. She has long hair and short hair; she also has straight tresses and kinky curls. You can also find Barbie in plus-size and of short stature. Barbie is now for every girl and we are here for it.
Other than Barbie and Mattel, there are other companies on a mission to give us dolls that represent young girls of color. Thanks to the previous surge in natural hair and self-love, young girls of color are excited to let their #blackgirlmagic shine through with a doll that they can relate to.
More companies are designing dolls to emulate the beauty of African women and these companies are on the mission to bring the hidden treasure to light.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
9. 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.
10. 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?
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.