After the Barbie Instagram account posted a photo of a black Barbie doll with hair that’s seemingly a half-done sew-in, people have been very vocal about whether the style is problematic or an attempt at inclusivity.
Mattel’s come under fire in the past for not having a proper representation of diverse women in their Barbie line-up, and have tried to make up for it by bringing out dolls in an array of skin colours, hair and body types ( as shown in their recent International Women’s Day Role Models line-up). However, it seems like the brand may have taken a slight step backwards in an attempt to push their diversity agenda.
A couple of days ago, the @barbiestyle Instagram account posted a photo of three dolls getting ready for a movie night to watch the new documentary Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie. The two white dolls have their hair pulled back into elegant low ponytails, but the black Barbie’s sporting a rather interesting half-cornrowed style with loose blonde waves on one side. What was probably meant to be an attempt at experimenting with black hair has ended up upsetting much of the online black community, with many flocking to Instagram and Twitter to call the brand out for a number of reasons.
“WHY choose cornrows of ALL the many styles?!! Why is THAT the style chosen to represent ALL BLACK women?!! Shade” tweeted one person.
This is a real hair style. That’s not the point. The problem is stereotyping us black women. Black women have a multitude of varied hairstyles they could have chosen. WHY choose cornrows of ALL the many styles?!! Why is THAT the style chosen to represent ALL BLACK women?!! Shade— Tu Bones BBQ (@tu_bones_bbq) May 1, 2018
Lol barbie... this is actually just embarrassing. Like they wanted to fit every black hair style on one head. The cornrows, the dyed weave, body wave bundles. Why? Why? Why? Just ask any black person and they will tell you, that you don’t do this anywhere. ANYWHERE ! https://t.co/KhRVhtFdVS— Eno Boateng (@Enooo_x) April 30, 2018
Others thought that the Barbie’s hair was a good representation of all the diverse styles of black hair and was sending a positive message to young girls, and that people are too quick to criticise.
“Where does Mattel say that this Barbie is a representation of EVERY black woman in this Gods earth??” commented one Instagram user. “Is every white woman exactly like the white Barbie? The problem is some of you want to jump on the bandwagon of wokeness and are literally grasping at straws for outrage.
I think this is part of representation. There are black little girls out there that would absolutely adore her hairstyle— Your Bestfriend 🌸 (@MixCultureFlow) April 29, 2018
A few people also pointed out that Mattel has featured a range of different hairstyles on their Barbie Style Instagram, such as a textured Afro and box braids.
Mattel have not issued a statement on the controversy yet.