Mattel created 10 new Barbie dolls in collaboration with talented costume designer Shiona Turini.
For decades, Mattel has been conforming to the unrealistic body type of a stereotypical slim, white, blonde girl for their Barbies. A few years ago, they decided to incorporate diversity while producing the dolls which included ones with vitiligo and one without hair. Then weeks later, they extended their family further by creating 10 new Barbie dolls keeping Black girls in mind. This latest range of realistic dolls, which was introduced in honor of Black Month, was made in collaboration with talented costume designer Shiona Turini. The Barbies had different skin tones, body types, and hairstyles. Mattel is finally catching up with the global trend of focusing on inclusivity so that every little kid irrespective of their race, ethnicity, and background feels represented.
It was a dream come true for stylist Turini, who recalls feeling exactly how Black women felt during their childhood while purchasing a Barbie. While the shelves were well-stocked with various collections, the only options available were different shades of hair, and there were hardly any when it came to complexion tones. "I grew up obsessed with Barbie and while she was one of my first fashion icons, I clearly remember searching shelves for a doll that looked like me and coming up empty-handed," she wrote on her Instagram, according to Tribune. The set showcases the versatility of beautiful Black people and features different models, including one in a wheelchair.
The designs of their outfits were inspired by three color themes: monochromatic, snakeskin mixed with black and white, and sherbet colors, reports New York Post. She also paid tribute to the first-ever Black Barbie doll by drawing inspiration from it to create her collection. This iconic doll was first introduced in 1980, and it donned a sparkling red dress and an afro. "It was important for me to reflect Barbie as an icon through the lens of black culture during Black History Month," said Turini in a statement. "I drew inspiration from the first black Barbie, who debuted her all-red look in 1980," she said. "My vision was to style diverse dolls in bold looks with themes seen throughout my work, like contrasting snakeskin and leopard, challenging traditional uniformity."
Celebrating the monumental line, Turini took to Instagram and expressed her hope that this new range would encourage every young girl, or kid of any gender, to embrace themselves. "Here she is, on her customized throne, surrounded by friends, created and styled by me. I hope other young children, and adult Barbie lovers, are as excited to see themselves reflected in these dolls as I am," she wrote according to reports. Turini then emphasized that representation matters. "Thank you @barbiestyle - for collaborating with me to create barbies with braids, finger waves, and everything in between. Chicks by the layers, all different flavors. And even a curvy doll, in a crop top, with waist-length twists. Baby Shiona is PROUD. Representation matters and I’m so grateful to be a part of this moment," she added.
In yet another post, she thanked the company for "making my childhood dreams come true" and for "allowing me the freedom to create something special so that my community can see themselves represented in such an iconic brand." In recent years, Mattel has been making efforts to "represent global diversity and inclusivity," and serve as the "most diverse doll line," according to CBS News. In January 2020, they introduced 22 skin tones, 76 hairstyles, 5 body types, 94 hair colors, and 13 eye colors, according to The Independent. "We’ve been committed to increasing diversity in our line and showcasing all the different types of beauty that exist ... making the line more accessible," said senior vice president and global head of Barbie, Lisa McKnight, per USA Today.