I think I've discussed before, my odd-but-not-inexplicable fascination with African American women. I blame that on Eartha Kitt (Catwoman!), Nichelle Nichols (Lt. Uhura!) and Donna Summer (Toot toot! Beep beep!). They were among the first women I remember seeing on TV and they made quite the impression. "Hot Stuff" was the first song I learned the lyrics to... so there I was four years-old, singing about a bootie call. Occassionally, while wearing my mom's knee high seude disco boots. Yup.
So I ALWAYS wanted the black character in any toy set. IF there was one. Besides Star Trek, I don't recall any black woman in any boy toy lines, up until X-Men, but I was already in high school by then. (I mean, I still got her, but I was past the "playing with" stage.) I distinctly recalling desperately wanting Orange Blossom from Strawberry Shortcake. This one girl I knew had her. In fact, I think she had all of them and even that butterfly they rode around on. Everytime I went over to her house, I wanted to play with Orange Blossom, but her mom was one of those parents that didn't let other kids play with their kids' toys and all we could do was like color and watch TV. I'm sure playing outside was an option, but screw that. My parents were reluctant to let me get any girl toys. I did manage to get the Purple Pieman, because he was a male, and I also managed to squeek the whole She-Ra: Princess of Power line past them by convincing them that they were part of the He-Man line, which technically they were, just with long brushable hair and jewel encrusted weaponry. And a pink unicorn. By the time Jem came out, they had just given up.
When I moved out, I was free to buy whatever the hell I damn well pleased, so I promptly started buying all the Barbies I wanted. This is my favorite ever, Nichelle from the Generation Girls. I actually have all the Generation Girls. They were so cool! Nichelle was the best! She has THE biggest fro and it's like those kinky, coily curls! Also, this is a first edition. Shortly into the run, the made her fro smaller (I'm sure to cut costs).
This is one of my most recent acquisions, Barbie Loves Disco. I swear, this is the most fabulous I've ever seen in a cardboard box in my life! Sparkles, sequins and FEATHERS! Does it get any better? Heeeeeeelllll no!
So I was prowling Walmart, looking for my super heroes, but of course, I always stop in the girl's section too. (I also often wonder if, when people see me prowling the toy depatment, they think I'm a possible child molester. Be glad most of you don't have to worry about that.) So anyway, girl's toy department... then I spotted some new Barbies I'd never seen.
They are called So-In-Style and I quickly realized... it was a whole line of JUST black Barbies! (That's their designer, Stacey McBride-Irby.) Holy crap! I almost fainted! And sqeeled like a girl! Well, first the squeeling, then the fainting. It really doesn't make sense the other way. Oh I loooooove them! I love how they have different skin tones and facial features (although I think they are all pre-existing head molds). So just like real black women, you have the light skin ("high yellow"), medium and darker. Well... none of them has really dark skin. Occassionally, a manufacturer does a doll with really dark, nubian skin and I have yet to see one that looks very good. I mean, it's not the skin tone, but like... don't give a doll with skin that dark blonde hair! That just looks terrible.
I haven't actually bought one yet. That's because I was kinda too overwhelmed and had to back away slowly. There are three older girls, Grace, Kara and Trishelle. (REALLY, Mattel? No Keisha?! Think about it. Don't we all know like 50 Keishas? It's like the black Sarah.) The younger girls are... I don't care. They're all just Kellys in different skin tones. I mean, I like some Kellys, the ones in costumes and stuff, but not the plain, everyday clothes ones. So won't be getting those.
The older girls come in two formats. Either with
a"little sister" or with hair that you can make curly or straight! Mattel should make a Black Beauty Shop playset! And a Nail Shop... but then they'd have to make a bunch of Korean dolls for that. The fashions are cute... some are a bit hoochie for me, but I guess they do reflect the culture. I mean, I'm from the Dirty South, so I've seen more than my fair share of booty shorts... and that's just on the gays. Zing! No seriously, I've seen a ridiculous amount of law or medical students drop it like it's hot as soon as 2 Live Crew comes on.
I noticed in the pics, there's a boy doll as well. I don't think he's out yet, but I really hope he's not the exact same Black Ken/Steven doll they've been using for the past 20 years. There are probably hundreds of different female heads and even a couple different caucasian Ken heads, but there is exactly ONE African American male headmold at Mattel. What better line to introduce a new one? Uh, so anyway, yeah.
I meantioned my idol Eartha Kitt earlier. I'm very grateful to have seen her perform live, as Cinderella's Fairy Godmother several years ago and even have her autograph on a Playbill (Thanks, Richard's Mom!) and I was the ONLY one who got one! She came right out, signed that one Playbill and got in her limo. Divaliscious! And last year, I was delighted to find her Hollywood Walk-Of-Fame star and get this ferocious picture, which everyone's seen, but it never gets old. And sadly, she passed away a few months ago. I mean, she was about a billion years old... yet she could still stretch her legs over her head, but even so, sad clown. Tear.