New black Barbies get mixed reviews

Stacy McBride-Irby, creator of the new Barbie, poses with the dolls.
Grace, Kara and Trichelle were created to fill a void for young black girls who for so long have been playing with dolls that don’t look like them.

The new black Barbies released by Mattel have fuller lips, curlier hair and other features that the company says more accurately represent African-American women. Some have cheered the new dolls. Others jeered them, saying they’re not black enough. “I love the black Barbie. It’s about time,” Jua Simpson said on CNN’s iReport, a user-generated news community. “But the hair is still a step backwards, since most of our hair is not straight and light brown.” Others disagree with critics who say the dolls should have had more natural black hairstyles, such as afros or braids. “Many people have criticized the dolls for either having hair that’s too long or too straight, but I have long, straight hair that I straightened. But it’s my hair and a part of me,” said Tanisa Zoe Samuel, an African-American iReporter from the Turks and Caicos, in the Caribbean. “Black women come in all shades, shapes and varieties that there is just no way to capture everyone with three dolls.” Samuel shares her thoughts on the new Barbie The dolls were created by Stacy McBride-Irby, an African-American who watched her daughter play with dolls and wanted to create a doll that looked more like her. McBride-Irby said she has heard the criticism, but she also has received many kudos. “They mean so much to me because they did come from a positive place,” McBride-Irby said. “My daughter loves the dolls. I’ve had dads thank me for creating this line of dolls that represent their little girls. These dolls are for girls all over the world.” This is not the first time Mattel has released an ethnic doll that drew criticism. See photos of the black Barbie dolls In 1997, Mattel collaborated with cookie maker Nabisco to create Oreo Fun Barbie. The black version of the doll, which sported an Oreo-shaped purse, was criticized by some who noted that “Oreo” is a derogatory term in the black community. The word is used to describe someone who is perceived as black on the outside and white on the inside. For some, the talk about dolls is not just child’s play. Some think early play with dolls can affect a girl’s self-esteem later in life.

Actress Nia Long, who appears in comedian Chris Rock’s new documentary, “Good Hair,” recently talked about the issue on CNN. “Historically, the Afrocentric features have not been celebrated,” Long said. “This makes us question the integrity of our beauty standard for ourselves.”