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.