Friday, July 17, 2009

Black Doll Hair by Mattel

One complaint about the S.i.S. dolls by Mattel is the lack of hair variety. The one straight (Grace), one curly (Kara), and one tightly curled (Trichelle) was not representative of most Black women's hair styles and textures. Interestingly enough, Mattel has produced a variety of Black hair styles and textures in other series. In a previous post, I had shown the variety Mattel achieved with one head mold. Please refer to that post for statements about the hair styles for three of the dolls shown - Harley Davidson Barbie with braids and the two swimming dolls with curly hair - in the first photograph below.

Variation in (Black) Hair by Mattel

Short Black Hair - Avon Representative, Uptown Chic, and Princess of South Africa Barbies

I had thought that the Uptown Chic Barbie and the Princess of South Africa Barbie had flocked hair. Opening the box, I see that the straight hair is cut very short for Uptown Chic Barbie and tightly curled and short for the Avon Representative and the Princess of South Africa Barbies.

Flavas Denim and Diamonds Kiyoni Brown and Generation Girl Nichelle, Long Stiff Hair

People concerned with ethnic authenticity allow that Black hair can be long, but they would find that the texture is usually coarser, curlier, and/or "heavier" than "White hair" or "Asian hair." Black hair is usually NOT "flippy, tossable." See Kiyoni Brown and Nichelle in the photo above. With the Denim and Diamonds version of Kiyoni Brown, Mattel captured this heavier, coarser hair texture. Kiyoni's hair looks like it could have been straightened with a hot comb. Nichelle, in contrast, has slightly relaxed, corkscrew curls similar to but mercifully NOT wet and greasy like the Jheri curl hairstyle worn during the 1980s by Rick James and Michael Jackson.

Here is Kiyoni alone for a closer look at her hair:

Flavas Denim and Diamonds Kiyoni Brown

Use of some of these hair styles rather than the default straight or wavy hairstyles used for the S.i.S. dolls might have satisfied the "authentic" requirement.


Anonymous said...

Soooo the Uptown Chic Barbie does NOT have flocked hair? I thought she did. I have her but I have not removed her from the box (yet). This is a great article. I love the different hair textures of the dolls that you've featured here.


D7ana said...

I thought Uptown Chic Barbie had flocked hair BEFORE I opened the box. Her very short, straight cut resembles a fur hat ... I don't mean that in a bad way. Interesting texture and look.

You will like this part: UC Barbie is on a poser body. Yay! Better articulation than most Barbies.

Anonymous said...

Although off topic, I wanted to make you aware of a new web site that specializes in black doll shows - They recently completed the New York Black Doll and Craft Show on July 25th and are rumored to be holding another show this holiday season. A worthwhile addition to the black doll enthusiast and collecting community.

D7ana said...

Thanks for sharing this information about the New York Doll and Craft Show. I have bookmarked the website, but please write again if/when you learn the date for upcoming shows.

Anonymous said...

I loved the pictures! You were only missing the Brandy Braids!

D7ana said...

Thanks for your feedback!

I do have Stylin' Hair Brandy, but I do not have the Braids Brandy. The only other braided hair dolls that I have are Street Happy D and Princess of Ancient Egypt.

I intend to do follow-ups of this post showing how other manufacturers cover Black doll hairstyles and maybe another post showing the range of male doll/action figure treatment.