Hair and skin are important when it comes to how others see you and this often impacts how you see yourself. I am grateful to be able to see a time when there is diversity in dolls that help reinforce a child’s self image.
It’s getting close to that season when gifts are usually expected; a kid’s delight. The time of magic and wonder when a child gets that one toy that changes his/her outlook on life forever. Maybe a Winnie Harlow inspired doll will do that magic for a child you know?
For those who don’t know, Winnie Harlow is this black model who has been a brand representative for Spanish and Italian fashion lines, after competing in America’s Next Top Model competition.
All this she accomplished despite having vitiligo. So basically when it comes to representation, she’s a big deal because at what point in history in the last five centuries can you identify a black person with something branded as a flaw, walk in a fashion show?
I don’t know about you, but when I was growing up perfection reigned supreme when it came to dolls, especially high-end dolls like Barbie; perfect figure, perfect hair, perfect makeup, and perfect skin. Since dolls were predominantly white, you would never see an albino doll or a doll with vitiligo.
Kansas-based designer Kay Black has created a line of dolls with the skin condition which will give kids with the condition a chance to finally be represented. Through her store Kay Customz she sells these dolls ranging in price from $65 to $150.
More recently, however, Instagrammer @kestrelohara has created a barbie doll modeled after Winnie Harlow. It’s not an official barbie but the picture of her doll went viral prompting many to request Mattel to create a barbie that represents those with vitiligo.
I think this is a big thing for our community. It either means that our features inclusive of natural hair, melanin-rich skin as well as the other things that distinguish us, are being marketed because we are getting out there and creating an adequate representation for our children.
This is excellent because it signals an awakening of our consciousness. We are shaking off the false and narrow-minded views that white is the only standard of beauty. This will have a trickle-down effect on our children, will not have to struggle so hard to have a strong self-concept since they will have images that counteract the negative effects that white superiority messages subject them to.
The big conglomerates now understand our purchasing power. The black community is the largest group of consumers, particularly when it comes to the beauty industry. We also will do almost anything to see our children happy so it makes sense to market to the black community globally if you want to grow your business and make top dollar.
This is great for us since it gives us the opportunity to teach our own about the diversity that exists among us. We can use these dolls to teach them why it is not ok to let differences in physical attributes divide us. It affords us the opportunity to teach our little ones that we should not accept limitations placed on us because of our skin color and hair texture.
The sooner we learn to appreciate and accept our own for who they are, eliminate terms such as good hair and light skin vs. dark skin within our community, the more grounded the global black community will become.
We are here the Winnie Harlow dolls because it is the embodiment of triumph for years of scorn, ridicule, and outright disrespect because of our skin. The world is changing and we can only hope it will continue to turn in our favor.