Barbie Becomes a Basic Broad

The last time I played with a Barbie, I was given the choice of two shades: light brown and dark brown.  “Shani” and “Asha” were about as ethnically edgy as Mattel dared to venture in the early nineties. 

(Pictured left to right) Shani, Nichelle and Asha

Marketed with the phrase “Shani means marvelous in the Swahili language…and marvelous she is!”  the dolls were primarily featured in brightly colored costume, big golden chandelier earrings and shortly afterwards “Soul Train Jamal” was introduced complete with a Kente cloth hat and a suit that resembled an MC Hammer shopping trip to the motherland.  Although, I appreciated Mattel’s effort, I couldn’t help but think that these dolls didn’t represent any identity that I could specifically relate to.

 Imagine my surprise during a short stroll down the toy aisle to see Barbie arranged in a wide variety of sista-friendly shades from caramel cutie to cocoa couture.  The “Barbie Basics” collection features 12 different Barbie® dolls draped in sexy, but sophisticated little black dresses in different styles.  The 51-year-old original plastic dream girl represents the basic beauty of women of all shades and styles. Mattel gets my vote for giving girls a tasteful array of options and infecting me with a wicked case of nostalgia.  “Barbie Basics” proves that the beauty of a woman is anything but basic…  



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