Nappy Barbie to Promote Self-Esteem


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.


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Photo credit: andres musta


tara lav
Bracha Katz6 years ago

How about barbies with the body shape of real women?

SeattleAnn S.
Ann S6 years ago

If they want to promote self esteem, they shouldn't give barbies to girls at all. Give them something useful like your time: teach them skills they can use or have fun with like sports, puzzles, or computer games to teach them teamwork, pattern recognition, and spatial visualization. We're trying to even the ground between men and women not go backwards and make girls vain first and foremost.

Asia Vital
Asia Vital6 years ago

@ Kimberly J - I Totally Agree.... We all know the power of words and some words should just be left alone. It's been used to set us apart from the curly hair sisters. I have a Cosmetology lisence and have had to study everything from Biology to Chemistry to Electricity and Trychology and never have I ever heard anyone referring to Afro hair as "nappy". Yet society refuse to let it go just like the N-word.

KARLOLINA G6 years ago

Parents should promote self-esteem.

Kim Stueck
Kim Stueck6 years ago


Nessie Benjamin
Nessie B6 years ago

I have always found Barbie toooo thin! When I was that thin, I was anorexic and looked like a cadaver in photos!!! Barbie needs to get real - no matter what color she is!

Virginia O'farrell

Great start. Now can we have a Barbie with correctly proportioned limbs and feet, a thicker waist and an ass? Thanks.

naomi cohen
naomi cohen6 years ago


rene davis
irene davis6 years ago


Howard C.
.6 years ago

The whole appearance thing passes me by (maybe I should feel 'abnormal', I don't!!). It seems to me that we all want to be something that we are not. When I was in India TV advertising was full of adverts for skin bleach - walk down a high street in the UK and you'll find at least one 'sun tanning salon', offering light skinned people the chance to look darker. I'm not too sure what colour my skin is, it has never really bothered me that much. I am lighter skinned than my mother and darker than my father - I look dark compared to a sheet of white paper and pale compared to my black shoes! I have however always tried not to hurt anyone and to help out when I could. To me these things are far more important than the colour of my skin or what my hair looks like (being a bit older most of it has fallen out anyway - what is left is no longer so black that it looked blue (according to my wife)). I know that an awful lot of advertising agencies will disagree with me but let's get over the appearance bit!