FashionSnob, PopCulturalist, PostRacialist

Things The Snob Is A Sucker For: Barbie Dolls

As a wee Snob, my favorite pastime was playing Barbies with Big Sis and Baby Snob. With three girls in one house we had a ton of Barbies and our mother was deadset on making sure more than 50 percent of those dolls were black. Back when Christie was the only black Barbie and black dolls were scarce, Mommy Snob would move heaven and earth to find a black doll, any black doll, that was pretty for us to play with. This meant routinely complaining to store owners to stock black Barbies and snatching up Flo-Jo and Michael Jackson dolls for us to play with the second they came out.

I can remember when Barbie finally released the Shani line of dolls, three Barbies of different skin tones with African American-style names and extravagant gowns. My mother bought us all three. I’ve written before about the importance of black children seeing beauty that represents themselves and these dolls were beyond aspiration for me. I wanted to be my Shani doll as much as I wanted to be Flo-Jo growing up. Who doesn’t want to be tall, confident and beautiful? And that’s what my dolls represented to me — the promise of this fantasy adulthood where I could be anything.

Therefore I’m trying to suppress squees over Mattel’s latest Snob-bait, So In Style, aka “SIS,” a new line of black dolls with more Afrocentric features and cute outfits.

More after the jump.

Grace is sooooo an Alpha Kappa Alpha it isn’t even funny. I haven’t seen that much pink n’ green since Kimora Lee Simmons launched a juniors’ line of Baby Phat. Those “Skee Wee” girls are designing shizz EVERYWHERE! I can’t blame them.

So, I’m not going to lie. I’m buying the one who’s interests include “journalism,” looks like one of my cousins (Tracy Snob? Is that you? Or is that the daughter of Stephanie Snob up in Chicago?) and is giving the world the side-eye. Her name even rhymes with mine. Trichelle/Danielle. Yes. That is so moi.

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20 thoughts on “Things The Snob Is A Sucker For: Barbie Dolls

  1. Olivia says:

    I haven’t bought or played with dolls for like over 10 years now, but ooh, I might just have to get these, if they’re available in the UK that is.

  2. Jen says:

    Grace is so my soror!! But I agree, there needs to be some Delta love. It was hard growing up in the 60’s & 70’s, when Mattel only thought of Black in one model – Christie. I was happy to have her (actually 2 of her) but secretly felt guilty that I didn’t totally identify with her because she didn’t look like me either. Far too much internal strife for a 7 year old. I’m so happy that Mattel saw the error of its ways years ago, but continues to offer different Barbies for all little girls and keeps tweaking the formula to remain fresh.

  3. The A says:

    Not just a black barbie line. A black barbie with natural hair! A black barbie that loves math! A black barbie with aspirations!so awesome.

  4. Natalie says:

    When I went to my late mother and said that I wanted to be Barbie when I grew up she said,”You certainly can.”Now many black parents raising their daughters in the eighty’s in a predominately white area would have been concerned by my declaration; not my mother. She knew that I wanted to be Barbie because of what Barbie had—namely a silver Corvette, a townhouse, a cottage, a pony, designer clothes and a MJ doll that was her “boyfriend”- not because of how Barbie looked. My mom, ever quick-thinking told me that I could in fact be Barbie when I grew up if I studied hard, went to college and got a good job, and because no good mother would ever lie to their child, (lol), I believed her; I studied hard, went to college and graduate school and became a self-sufficient, professional woman. Before her death when I asked her if she remembered telling me I could be Barbie she said she couldn’t recall the conversation, but she said it sounded like something she would have said to me at that time. She knew that I loved Barbie and the type of “life” that Barbie seemed to lead. She said that more black women deserved to live that “life” a life of success and independence. She always made sure that all of my Barbies were black, and surprisingly even in the predominately white area of western North Carolina where I was raised, that wasn’t hard for her to do. I’m thrilled about this line. Makes me wish I had a little girl!

  5. Lisa J says:

    Even though there was Christie, my Mom ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY REFUSED, to let me have any Barbies. Period, dot. I think her exact words were "I wish I would buy you one of them." You know how we wish we would do stuff. So I had to content myself with playing Barbies with friends. It is weird b/c I had someother white dolls but I guess the unrealistic figure, the blue eyes blonde hair was too much for her and maybe she didn’t know or care about the black ones, or thought they weren’t black enough. Maybe I was deprived? Yeah , that’s it. I’ll add that to the list, #1 is not getting a dog. Try to make her feel guilty. Never works though. Not on a black mama. She always rolls her eyes and says, "Girl please, I ain’t thinkin bout you!" Doesn’t hurt to try though 🙂

  6. Sun Tan Malibu Black says:

    Grace???? That name would fit better for the doll’s mother or grandmother. I would expect a more modern name-not one of "dem names" though.

  7. Dietrich says:

    I have a problem with the way they look. What’s with the hands on the hips and tone down the sparkly diamond jewelry, pull the skirts down a little further & what about names like Nicole, Tiffany & Danielle (shout-out to the Snob). Entirely too much make-up/lip gloss for my eleven year old. She ain’t gettting them. No its not ok for you to look like that at that age, sorry ain’t happening. I had to say no to her one Christmas to the Bratz with the tons of make-up on them. Back to the drawing board Barbie. And what’s with the name SIS because we refer to ourselves as sisters???? Honestly Mattel, less it truly more.

  8. Candy says:

    I had black and white Barbies, but I was pretty uninterested in dolls. However, I think it’s so cute that the designer lit up like a little girl when she talked about the dolls. It’s clear she enjoys her work and is proud of it. When she said, "…she’s almost my complexion." you can see how excited she is. It’s nice to see someone who really enjoys their career.

  9. Honey says:

    I like the dolls and their look, but I initially didn’t see them as a "Big Sister/Little Sister" doll. Based on the age of many young mothers in our community, these dolls could be seen as ‘Mother and Daughter."

  10. Andrea says:

    This is crap. This is unrealistic crap and fantasy fed to socially engineer the soft mindsets to be enslaved to want continue the cycle of producing prototypical women that is what is "Black Women" today. The assertions that approve of this shows her the results of a case study in real-time of just how soft-minded Black Women are. There is Barbie and that is enough. Barbie is not a role model the Black Community needs. She is fantasy and her lifestyle is virtually impossible to live even if she or Oprah, with Oprah’s money that could try to buy that type of life. Why subject our girls who already have so many memes to fight against be sold on the idea that their self-esteem and outcome is determined on whether they have a doll that socializes them to want abnormally long hair most of them will never grow naturally, to think they must be "sassy" to be confident and seen and heard, to need to always wear the latest fashion trends that will keep then trained to spend their money to keep up with consumerism, and teach them early to use their gaits and presence to feel they must be seductive. These are all the vain stereotypes that haunt us and yet women here are approving of what traps us.Why are the little ones wearing heavy make-up and modeling Little Lolitas?I hate this. Black Women are an endangered species endangering ourselves supporting all things that end up hurting us. We are not as smart and intelligent as we think we are and this case study in this post shows. I swear. We wonder why Whites and mass media and other races treat us the ways they do but we fail to see our own soft minds. We fail to see how everything that is good for White women is not good for us. There is one thing to want and desire and there is another thing to know what is best for you strategically, long-term. And long-term sometimes does not mean just within the span of your life. We never look to understand long-term results from our immediate desires. Everyone else (like Mattel) sees our frivolous weaknesses and will feed us what we want and trying to fool us that these dolls are also brainiacs with dimensions. It’s a marketing scheme to swindle us and keep us regressively chasing fantasies.

  11. Julia says:

    I’m glad there’s a line of black Barbies. It’s certainly about time. But I worry about the beauty standard these dolls represent. Only ONE of all of them has natural hair and although there is a range of skin tones, the darkest skin tone isn’t very dark… I’m glad Mattel took this step, but I would have liked them to have gone even farther…

  12. DCStar says:

    I’m so buying these dolls for my daughter(me too!!!) even though she’ll have to wait to play with them since she’s only 2. I’m gonna rack up on the Tiana stuffs too, when.ev.er. it hits stores. My mother and father bought me dolls of different colors and I remember my dad having The Talk with me (at about 6)about which dolls I looked most like…at the time, I didn’t quite get it. He thought I’d been favoring Peaches N’ Cream Barbie over this dollar store knock off Black Barbie and he was right, but not because of color—I just wasn’t digging the cheapness of that doll compared to the other. Anyhoo… My husband and I are a tad more…militant:) In the sense that we only plan to buy black dolls. I know that might sound bad, but I feel that so many cartoons, ads, books, and other kid paraphenalia features white children overwhelmingly and we so want her to love her own special little black girl self..first. One of her grandmothers purchased a doll last Christmas that wasn’t White, but also wasn’t Black. She knows the rule, but "Whatevah!!!" We were none too thrilled, but…at least as parents, we’re on the same page. I tell myself "Well, she does look like some of your cousins from Ahoskie…" It was great to hear from the designer-she’s so clear about her vision for this doll, realizing that fantasy and play are so important for children. Positive representations of Black girls in doll form, the mentoring she spoke of, the interests, the personalities speak to me. I think parents should be critical, discerning consumers, but dang, don’t zap the joy out of everything. These dolls are not Bratz rebooted and considering the scarcity of Black dolls, I’d buy another outfit if homegirl’s cheer shorts are too brief. I’m with Snob, I’m feeling Trichelle-looks like my hair that last time I tried to flat iron it, but not everyone has a mother with pressing comb skills. *off topic death stare of envy*

  13. RainaHavock says:

    @DCstar: Nothing wrong with that. I got buckets of Black Barbie dolls from my childhood. Also I remember when we had this gift swap at Girl Scout camp and this girl had got me a white doll. I got so mad I grabbed my gift and took it back home with me! XD And I was like five mind you! LOL!

  14. Jazz says:

    My problem with these dolls is that they are proof of the stereotype about black women – we are only cute if our eyes aren’t brown , and if we arent too dark . Idk if I will buy them , maybe for myself , but for my little cousins – im not sure . I think I want them to realize that they are beautiful even though they are not the general standard of beauty

  15. SistaOpinion says:

    Co-signing both Andrea and Jazz…and I tried, while watching this, to have some empathy for the woman speaking since she’s black and seems to be proud of what she’s created…but I couldn’t. There’s no way I would buy these for my niece or any other black girl in my circle.Thanks mainly to my father, the majority of my dolls were black, so I had only two or three Barbies growing up (1970s). Interestingly, after we were grown, my mother bought each of her three daughters a doll from the Shani line…or she tried to. She couldn’t find any Ashas (the light-skinned one) but there were plenty of Shanis (medium) and especially there were plenty of Nichelles (who was actually dark, unlike the Kara doll in this line).

  16. Miss B says:

    The dolls are cute, but why do they have blonde hair and blue eyes? Just wondering. They all look like they have lace front wigs on, then again, that is how the main stream blk women look today. Well they had one doll with natural hair. I guess that is good. I will try to stay positive. But really a little dark skin doll with blonde hair? Goodness.

  17. MissZ87 says:

    I don’t like the dolls..It’s not necessarily the color of the hair that bothers me because black women do dye their hair. It is the TEXTURE of the hair and eye color that I can’t stand. its unrealistic that all of them have this waist length STRAIGHT hair. How about an Afro or some twists or (goodness gracious) locks!!! Those are not truly representative of black women; they are white barbies painted black.

  18. Isoke says:

    Um, you all are talking about how they don't have short hair, but most black woman and children don't have the extremely short hair, that you'd like on the doll. And though these are role models, they are still DOLLS. Get it through your heads! Who wants to play with a doll that has barely any hair, i mean, i'm 13 year old, and i know i wouldn't play with it, neither would my little 5 year old sisters. Maybe if she had no hair that would be cool, but please don't expect a true black barbie, they don't have true white barbies if you think about it.

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