'Black Barbie': Why an Ont. mother's giving dolls makeovers
Kendra Mangione, CTVNews.ca
Published Friday, March 28, 2014 11:04AM EDT
Last Updated Friday, March 28, 2014 11:23AM EDT
When a Hamilton, Ont. mother went doll shopping, she was unable to find any Barbie dolls that looked like her daughter.
So Queen Cee, a black Canadian woman, emailed Barbie manufacturer Mattel, she found that there was a line of Barbie dolls with various skin colours, called "So In Style," but they weren't marketed to Canada.
The company also said that individual stores and chain stores could decide to buy the black Barbies, but there hasn’t been enough demand, Cee told CTV's Canada AM on Friday.
"I was never really a fan of Barbie because of the lack of representation," she added. But when she found the black dolls south of the border, she decided to buy some for her daughter and her daughter's friends.
Still, they weren’t quite right. Though the dolls came in a variety of skin colours, most of them had sleek, straight hair.
Cee taught herself how to style their hair to better reflect the diversity of the women and girls around her.
For example, she gave one of the dolls a round, black afro. "She's like a reflection of my daughter, who loves wearing her hair big and out and curly,” she said.
In 2008, Cee founded Be-You-tiful Girls Club, a non-profit organization that promotes multiculturalism and self-esteem in girls through creative and artistic tasks.
She recently decided to bring the Barbies she'd customized for her daughter to a group meeting, and started a new project, called "Just Like Me," with the girls.
The project has girls style the dolls' hair and clothing to reflect their own diversity. Some of the customized dolls have curly hair, while others wear tight braids.
"There's a movement happening with natural hair and a lot of people embracing their natural hair (texture)," she said.
Cee said the project helped the girls take something negative, like the lack of diversity in dolls on the market, and "put a positive spin on it."
"I've taken dolls that have bone-straight hair and given them curly styles because I want little girls to know we're born with different types of curls, different types of waves, kinky hair. We can make it straight if we choose to, but we can also be proud of wearing our own curls."
Canada AM reached out to Mattel but didn't get a response.