mixed race barbies

I don’t think I would have been allowed to have one of these Barbies either.  Actually, I kind of don’t get this.  The designer doesn’t say that she made them so that little mixed girls will have a doll that more accurately represents their background.  She says it’s for African-American girls (which is weird because this is in the UK), so how are these different from the black barbies that have been around for years?  Is it that they’re wearing Rocawear, which we can assume white Barbie either knows nothing about, or wouldn’t be caught dead in?  Is it that African-American girls have career aspirations that include having Jay Z as their boss?   Ok, clearly I don’t just kind of not get it, I don’t get it at all.

First collection of mixed race Barbie dolls hits the UK

The ‘So In Style’ dolls designed by African American mum debut today in Selfridges

The So In Style dolls launched today at Selfridges
The So In Style dolls launched today at Selfridges

It seems Barbie has some new friends to add to her circle and they come in the shape of four mixed race girls named Jayla, Kara, Trichelle and Chandra. The first of their kind in a sea of fair skinned Barbie dolls, the four ‘So In Style’ girls were unveiled today as part of a cultural Barbie retrospective at the Wonder Room concept store within Selfridges.

Adding to the Wonder Room’s repertoire of all things contemporary and interesting, the mixed race dolls, designed by Barbie designer Stacey McBride-Irby, feature as part of an exhibition to celebrate 40 years of black Barbie history.

Unveiled by brand consultant and founder of WAH-Nails Sharmadean Reid, the authentic looking dolls stand alongside vintage black Barbies as well as 12 larger than life dolls.  The woman behind the creation of the ‘So In Style’ girls, who are decked out in Jay Z’s Rocawear clothing, says her inspiration behind the range was her daughter and her own heritage.

“As a Barbie doll designer for more than 10 years, I want African-American girls to know that dolls can represent their career aspirations, hobbies and ethnic backgrounds. Barbie inspired me to realise my dream of becoming a designer, and I want my dolls to inspire girls to play, create and live out their dreams,” explains Stacey.

The dolls are available in Selfridges (link) from today and cost £25.


8 thoughts on “mixed race barbies

  1. Take a breath! 🙂 These dolls were introduced in the U.S. last year. I’m no expert but my understanding is that black Barbies up until then had the same faces as white ones, just a different color. What makes these different (I’m told) is it’s a line of dolls that come in a distinct range of skin tones, facial features (lips, noses, etc.), and hair textures to better reflect the diversity in the black community. It’s interesting that these were simply marketed as black dolls in the U.S., but for this U.K. debut they’re explicitly calling them mixed race in the press release. It could be the term simply sells better in the U.K.

    To your point about Jay-Z, it’s noteworthy that last year these dolls came with little sister dolls that they mentored (“So In Style” … S.I.S. … get it?), and accessories of their diverse hobbies and career aspirations–musical instruments, cameras, textbooks, pom-poms. This new line omits all that, and focuses on the fashion. It’s not that sinister though, this is just Rocawear celebrating their tenth anniversary and partnering with Mattel to do it. In other words, it’s a bizness, man, and black Barbie has arrived.


  2. i love the idea of different skin tones for barbies and more accurate features…but i wish they would not do the rocawear clothing style. just the generic styles they already have been using is good enough (well if I had it my way it would be much more modest in general).

    But i give them kudos for trying to be more diverse. At least its a small step forward.

  3. As a doll collector, I really find these dolls interesting and wonderful. It hasn’t been long since they were introduced in the US, and just as BillMo said, there was never a mention to them being mixed race, and they each came with little sisters.

    Some people said they were ‘not black enough’ (I hate that) because they have light eyes and straight (permed) hair, some even said they needed to be more thick in the right places. Their features could have been made differently, but then people would have then said “it’s playing into stereotypes to make them thick with kinky hair.” Everyone can’t be pleased at the same time.

    I like them, and consider them a part of the mix where all colours and features are beautiful. I’m glad they are being sold here in the UK- possibly in Spain or South America they are being sold as Latina. That’s business for ya.

  4. hi,my name is mahroo.i from iran & in city:karaj. i love picture of barbie.please send to me many pic of barbeis. i love you bad picture of boyssssss.ssxx

  5. There were black Barbie dolls with African features WAY before these dolls ever existed. The Christie doll – which did not have the traditional “white” Barbie face mold, came out in 1968.

    This was just a marketing ploy. And not a very good one at that.

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