'Barbie So In Style' designer Stacey McBride-Irby. Photo courtesty of AP
In an effort to inspire young black girls and promote their self-images, Mattel launched its "So In Style" line of black Barbies last month. The dolls come in varying skin tones, have fuller lips, a wider nose and more pronounced cheek bones and two of them (Trichelle and Kianna) have curlier hair. This is a vast improvement over Mattel's previous attempts at creating a black Barbie (Francie and Christie were basically white Barbies painted brown). The designer of the dolls, Stacey McBride-Irby, said her goal was to address the needs of the African-American community.
While many black women have praised Mattel for the "So In Style" line, the dolls aren't without their detractors. There are some who have expressed concern over the fact that none of the dolls have shorter, natural hair. The thin frames of the dolls have also raised eyebrows (the unrealistic body image issue has been an ongoing criticism of Barbie, regardless of skin color).
Although the criticisms leveled at the "So In Style" line are valid, Ms. McBride-Irby did get many things right. In addition to the varying skin tones and facial characteristics, the line also stresses the importance of education/career aspirations and promotes mentoring among females.
The dolls are experiencing success already and there are plans to expand the line. Hopefully, the concerns raised will be addressed and we'll see "So In Style" dolls that look like this:
For more on the "So In Style Line", please click here to read the story by Megan K. Scott.
If you'd like to hear Barbie designer Stacey McBride-Irby discuss the "So In Style" line, you can do so by watching the following videos:
So In Style 1
So In Style 2