African Amercian dolls have been reaching the shelves of toys stores for a few years now, but the representation of natural hair styles has been lacking. Even Mattel suffered from controversy in 2009 when their line of black Barbie dolls launched with straight hair. They later made a correction and introduced the Barbie Fashionistas line which offered a range of skin colors and hair styles that more closely related to today’s changing demographics.
Original Barbie Fashionistas Dolls
But while Mattel has been making strides in skin and hair colors, they fell short when it came to body types. But today that’s changed. Their secret project named “Dawn” has been revealed and with it a new line of dolls available in four body types, seven skin tones, eighteen eye colors, and eighteen hair colors. The four body types are curvy, petite, tall, and original.
These new dolls will obviously not fit into original Barbie clothing, but that’s perhaps the best part. It makes the reality of not fitting into society’s norms tangible when a skirt won’t fit over the hips. It’ll be interesting to see how many clothing items are available for these tall, short, or plump dolls as compared to their model-thin original counterparts.
Mattel’s Line of Real-life Dolls
While I applaud Mattel’s efforts to become more relevant, they’re not just doing it to be altruistic. Their sales are down, and they’re looking to regain market share, and they’ve pinned their hopes on this expanded line. Ironically, a competing brand of African American Barbie-sized dolls was just released a few months ago with the selling point of having a wider variety of skin tones and natural hair. What I found astonishing, and what ultimately turned me off from the brand, was a statement they made saying they chose only to produce skinny dolls because frankly those are what sell. I’m hoping Mattel’s new line proves them wrong.
This new line of body types joins the already popular Fashionistas line of Barbie Dolls. Known for their low price points, just $9.99 for a clothed doll and $19.99 for a doll with additional clothing and accessories, this line of play dolls has expanded to embrace the rest of us. While their curvy line is far from plus size, it’s a great step towards making a wider variety of dolls to choose from. What I haven’t been able to find out is the difference in the doll’s sizes. When I do, I’ll update with their measurements.
Are You Ready for the New Barbies?
Though I was in the market for a few African American or bi-racial dolls for my granddaughter who will be born in March, I immediately discarded the notion of buying from the competitor because of their comments regarding fat dolls, so you can imagine my delight when I read about the new Mattel dolls. Yes, I’ve ordered several, and will continue to do so to support the line.
Some of the dolls are available for pre-order on the Mattel site while others are available now and many still waiting to debut (though note from my order above done on 1/28, that “in stock” dolls are “shipping by 2/3”). You can also purchase previous dolls in the Fashionistas line on Amazon.com.
Do you think consumers buy these new lines? Or will they balk at having to buy clothing for each body style?
- Disney Princess Little Kingdom Magiclip 7-Doll Giftset
- Doll Clothes for American Girl Dolls: 6 Piece Rain Outfit – Includes Rain Jacket, Umbrella, Boots, Hat, Pants, and Shirt
- Melissa & Doug Jenna – 12″ Doll
- Disney Pixar Cars – Lightning McQueen Pit Crew – 6 Figure Play Set – In Display Box
- Disney Frozen Fever Birthday Party Elsa Doll
- Neat-Oh! Barbie ZipBin 40 Doll Dream House Toy Box & Playmat
- JC Toys, La Baby 11-inch Washable Soft Body Play Doll For Children 18 months Or Older, Designed by Berenguer
- 7 Pc. Casual Outfit Set Fits 18 Inch Doll Clothes Includes – 2 Pants, 2 Tops, Headband, and Pocketbook
- EastVita 10 Pairs of Doll Shoes, Fit Barbie Dolls Multicoloured, 1 inch
- Melissa & Doug Doll Diaper Changing Set