I was inspired to write this blog post today after reading an article about a new company Queens of Africa which makes dolls inspired by Nigerian heritage - *shameless plug* my bday is in a couple of weeks......you know, in case anyone wanted to send a doll my way......*end plug*
I grew up in the US, and my parents ALWAYS bought me the Black barbie, who back then was named "Christie" or boutique Afrocentric dolls with African clothing. My parents even had a business for a while selling Afrocentric dolls in NY. And I loved it! When I went to toy stores with my parents, they always knew that I'd be picking out a "Christie" and not a Barbie. Though, as I saw what my other friends were surrounded by, I noticed that this, for some reason was not the norm among my African and African American friends. While going to school in Nigeria I also noticed that many of the dolls even there were white, and as I got older, it bothered me more and more. I remember I went on a mini-rant a few months ago while I was in Nigeria and I saw someone give my niece a White barbie.....am I the only one who sees the issue here?
As a kid, I remember always pretending to be a mom with my baby dolls, and dreaming about what my future would look like once I grew up, got a car and a place like my Christie doll.............. *sidenote* life is very different from what I imagined it would be back then *end sidenote* The truth is that all girls do this at that age, we think about what it would be like to have a real baby that looks like the one that we're currently holding, or to grow up into the image of beauty which we see in those adult dolls. So its really no wonder, when you really think about it, that so many Black women can't see themselves as beautiful unless their hair is "done"...... done, of course meaning with long, straight Brazilian or Indian extensions. Its also no wonder that so many women both here and in Africa bleach so much. And my favorite is when people talk about how they want mixed babies with that "good hair." All of these ideas come from somewhere, and in most cases I believe it starts in our childhood.
I'm all for the occasional straight weave, and I'm all for interracial couples who are in love and have babies by the way - there's nothing wrong with that. I just find it very interesting to see how young this false idea that white = beauty starts, and to see that many times we as parents, godparents, aunts etc help implant the idea that whiter is better at such a young age through the dolls that we pick and give to our daughters.
It was interesting reading CurlyNikki's article on the Queens of Africa Dolls and seeing that the inspiration came when a man realized that he could not find any Black dolls for his daughter in Nigeria - imagine that, you can't find a Black doll in Africa. It is amazing though that he took it upon himself to be a part of the solution and start this brand - and even more amazing that people are starting to catch on, and the brand is doing WELL. He reportedly sells between 6,000 and 9,000 dolls a month.
I definitely don't want the spirit of this blog post to get lost. There are white people and white dolls who are stunning! A friend of mine gave me a white doll as a kid for my bday - one of the ones where the water changes in the water, and don't tell anyone but I still have it. It's so cool! My only point is that Black people and Black dolls are also beautiful, and its our responsibility to reinforce these ideas to our children in as many ways as possible, including giving them at least some dolls that look like them.
Well, those were my thoughts for today, but I'm curious to hear yours too! Do comment below and share your thoughts and experiences too!