In Columbus, Georgia, a group of women began a campaign to donate 40 plus black Barbies to young black girls at a local Girls, Inc chapter. Before donating them, they treated the Barbies’ hair with pipe cleaners and boiling water to create “nappy headed” Barbies, or “natural ‘fros” on the dolls.
They are doing this to aid the self esteem of young black women who are lacking images of themselves in the media. The organization is called Frolific and appears to be a Meet-up group whose purpose is to “provide encouragement and support to sistas who are natural, transitioning, or considering going natural.”
Their purpose in providing these Barbies is let young women know that they are okay the way that they were born. They do not need whitening and straightening. The goal is to let a doll better represent natural hair to help the young women develop a sense of pride in themselves.
And perhaps this is why the clothing line Rocawear recently partnered with Mattell to create a line of hip hop clothing for Barbie. Trying to make Barbie more relevant to the current market is a great idea for Mattell, and may help with self esteem. But it still presents that same problem and sends the same messages: “If you don’t look like Barbie (even nappy headed Barbie) you are doing it wrong.”
I applaud the last part as it reminds me of an assignment I give my women’s studies classes. Take a Barbie and re-create her in your image. It has been too long that woman remake themselves in Barbie’s image, and we do not have enough dolls that are made in our own image. I think this is the point that Fro-lific is trying to make.
Photo credit: andres musta