The Struggle For Identity Found In A Barbie Doll
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Politics and Activism

The Struggle For Identity Found In A Barbie Doll

The Struggle For Identity Found In A Barbie Doll

Growing up, I always struggled with finding my identity. I never knew what category of race I fell into. Although I am an African-American, I never felt that I really was, because of the way I look. I never looked like the other black kids in my class, and that took a heavy toll on my self-esteem and my identity. As a child, I looked to things around me to find an identity. Mainly, I looked to barbie dolls to find my identity. I was told that the doll that related to me the most was the Christie doll, which is the black barbie doll. I never saw her direct resemblance to me.

Black Barbies

Let's be real, in the late 90s and early 00s, the black barbies were never diverse. They all came in one shade, had blue eyes, wore bright-pink lipstick, and had brown, straight hair. For birthdays and Christmas, these dolls were gifted to me. My mother used to tell me to be proud of the black barbie doll because it looked like me, and I was, because the doll was a representation of my heritage. However, it didn't look like me at all. What the makers of those dolls failed to realize was that black comes in different shades, different facial features, and different hair textures. That is something that I know now, but how do you explain that to young girls that were like me, who couldn't find representations of themselves? For years, I longed for a doll that could capture the essence of black beauty and how it comes in different shades. Needless to say, I wanted a doll that looked like me.

Progression of Black Barbie

Sometime in 2005, there was a change in how black barbie dolls were made. They were given more realistic features, and their hair textures were like those of actual black women. For the first time, black barbies were made in the image of black girls with different shades of black complexion. For once, black girls could see beauty in themselves through these dolls. These dolls proved that we didn't have to have blue eyes and straight hair in order to be considered beautiful. This was a triumphant moment for young black girls everywhere, except they forgot the image of black girls that look like me.

Zendaya's Barbie

In September of 2015, I finally laid eyes on a Barbie doll that resembled me; it was the Zendaya Barbie doll. For the first time ever, Barbie made a doll targeted to bi-racial black girls. My only wish was that they created a doll like this when I was a young girl. My need to understand my identity and gain self-esteem depended on it. Growing up, there were never dolls like that ever made. Not only does the doll resemble bi-racial girls, it has beautiful black locs, which serve as a symbol for African heritage, which many girls like me are discredited for. The only issue with this doll is that it isn't for sale. Hopefully, with Zendaya's doll being made, this will open a new avenue for dolls like this to be created for bi-racial girls everywhere.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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