Home Lifestyle ‘Black Barbie’ documentary examines the importance of true representation

‘Black Barbie’ documentary examines the importance of true representation


The ‘Black Barbie’ documentary is created by Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland.

Black Barbie premiers 19 June on Netflix. Picture: X

BARBIES have been a vital part of many childhoods across the globe for generations.

Last July, the beloved toy doll was cast into the spotlight with the release of the “Barbie” movie.

As “Barbiemania” continues, Netflix has released their new documentary, “Black Barbie”.

Created by Shonda Rhimes’ Shondaland, the production house behind hit series like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Bridgerton”, this documentary explores the untold story of the first black Barbie.

It also delves into the black women at Mattel, which manufactures the dolls, who brought them to life almost four and a half decades ago and, in doing so, brought some much-needed diversity to the toy aisle.

Shonda Rhimes. Picture: Supplied

According to Netflix, the documentary “explores the impact of three remarkable black women at Mattel responsible for the Black Barbie debut in 1980”.

Through insider interviews and an engaging retelling of what happened at Mattel leading up to Black Barbie’s debut, the documentary examines the importance of true representation.

Dolls aren’t just toys, they are “childhood symbols that can be crucial to identity formation and imagination,” the streaming service explained.

They added that these women not only changed the toy industry but also emphasised the significance of representation in all aspects of life.

These women’s story is a powerful reminder of how important it is for children to see themselves reflected in the toys they play with and the role models they look up to.

Many are thrilled about the documentary and believe that it is necessary to create awareness around “Black Barbie.”

This included @lauren6509, who wrote: “KITTY BLACK PERKINS remember her name. She’s a legend. In 1980 she designed the first black Barbie which is the one with the afro and red dress.

“I know a certain demographic would think this documentary is “wOkE” but these conversations have been had for almost a century. A psychologist in 1947 did a doll test and found overwhelmingly more black kids preferred white dolls because they thought they were more beautiful than black ones.

“Anyone with half a brain cell would know why that’s a problem but in case I need to say it this test was profound because it speaks to the psyche of these children. It can also lead to inferiority complexes, low self-esteem and overall negative self image.

“Representation is very important, so in1968 a little toy company Shindana created black dolls for kids to see themselves. They also created Chinese and Native American dolls down the line.

“They did what needed to be done and their legacy will be cemented in the toy industry.“

Meanwhile, @traceywhitney1272 added: “I can’t wait! There were only white Barbies when I was a little girl. It took a little time, but I say bravo to Mattel for their inclusivity!”

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