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Defining Beauty

October 14, 2009

Barbie’s “So In Style” Grace doll was part of my swag from Blogalicious ’09. I thought she and her little sister Courtney were beautiful, and I added the other two SIS dolls to my things-to-buy list immediately.

Then I saw the So In Style Hair Debate  article on MSNBC.com. In short, the article discusses complaints of the dolls having long, straight hair. This rubbed me the wrong way for a couple of reasons.

First of all, my daughters define beauty by looking at me and the other important women in their lives. If all of us have long, relaxed hair or weaves, then that will have a much larger effect on them than a doll. If they hear us using the terms “good hair” and “bad hair” then that is what they will do. So, if I want my daughter to see the beauty and versatility of natural hair, then I need to do that by example.

And so what if the dolls come with long hair? I remember cutting my Barbie’s hair to look like Salt ‘n Pepa, because to me that was the epitome of cool.  I also remember braiding it and trying to color it with kool-aid (yes mommy, that’s where the kool-aid packs were going). I made her clothes and Ken was not her boyfriend, but her back-up dancer. That was part of the fun of being a child, I could be creative and my inspiration was part pop culture/part everyday life.

One of the great things about black hair IS the versatility. I love that I can have an afro one day and a straight bob the next. Sometimes my baby wants two-strand twists and other days she wants ponytails. If there is a kit that lets her do her doll’s hair with different textures I don’t see that as a bad thing, just more ways for her to experiment.

So, while I understand the debate when we are shown in a less than positive light, this Barbie debate is not that. These are beautiful, educated, career-oriented dolls, that are also black.

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