Growing up, I had to use my imagination to bridge the gap between the blonde hair slim waist doll I personified, and what I saw when I looked in the mirror. And thus, it comes as no surprise that my cousins and I wore t-shirts on her heads so we could flick our imaginary long straight hair as we practised the dance moves to ‘Rhythm is a Dancer’.
Apparently, I am one of many Black girls who did this, and because of that innocent but sad ritual of my youth, I feel so strongly that young girls and boys, whatever ethnicity should have the option to play with a diverse mix of characters that reflect global diversity. The world is not (and will not be) exclusively pink, white and slim and children should learn this as early as possible.
The reality is that only 41% of Black women see themselves depicted as beautiful in popular media. I’m not sure what the statistic is for toys, but what I do know is the rate of information children absorb is awesome and frightening. So any opportunity to adorn young people with presents that depict positive self-associations is key.
So, I slid into Fuse ODG’s DM
This week I slid into someone’s DM for the first time, I dropped MOBO Award-winning artist Fuse ODG a brief message on IG to congratulate him on the launch of Nana Dolls, a series of dolls inspired by historical black women from Africa. Fuse ODG and his team have been working to educate black children about their history, and in a fun way.
“This is inspired by historical black women from Africa. It’s very important how our younger generation see themselves. Nana means Queen or King and these dolls represent power, bravery, confidence, leaders and many great attributes that the younger generation need to know that they already possess.” Fuse ODG
Barbie (Mattel) does have a black Barbie now, but it took them way in to the 2000’s to produce a black Barbie that wasn’t just a painted version of a white one (yes, really did do that). Furthermore, if you’re in the UK shopping for a Black Barbie across mainstream retailers, good luck to you. I haven’t found any.
It’s not about playing with black dolls if you’re black, or white dolls if you’re white, it’s about truly living a life of diversity and it starts at home, with our own friends and family. So if you’re thinking of buying a doll for a young person, or even yourself (side eye). Consider Nana Dolls and some diversity this Christmas and onwards.
You can pre-order Nana Dolls by emailing emailing: firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them AFROBLUSH sent you 😉