While we love that Barbie has moved beyond the original blond-haired, blue-eyed doll, diversity among dolls is still pretty limited. A model from St. Lucia is aiming to change that with her line of Malaville dolls. Fashionistas Maisha, Malina, Mhina, and Mala feature a wider spectrum of skin tones than we’ve ever seen before, and we love the idea of our little ones playing with dolls that actually represent the beautiful diversity that exists among Black women. Another element we can’t get enough of: the dolls’ gorgeous, natural looking, curly-haired Afros. Read on for more about this cool and eye-opening line of Afro-Caribbean-inspired dolls and the woman behind it.
Mala Bryan decided to create her own line of dolls after becoming frustrated with the status quo. She found it surprisingly difficult to find Black dolls to buy for children in her hometown or to add to her own growing doll collection. Some adult doll collectors would even purchase Barbies and re-root the dolls’ hair to make it more natural and representative of kinky and curly hair textures, but that process was costly and time-intensive. Bryan worked for almost a year to create an affordable line of dolls that would serve as positive role models for girls of color, saying, “We have to start from young, building the self-esteem of these children.” The enterprising model chose skin tones from Pantone color charts, and several shades of brown for the dolls’ eyes as well. The resulting four dolls have rich and varied skin colors and hair textures that more accurately reflect the beauty of women of color today. We especially love the Maisha doll since dolls representing girls and women with dark skin tones are extremely rare. The dolls each come with a specific outfit, but the Malaville Instagram features pictures of them wearing a variety of awesome styles including numerous African prints outfits. Bryan has said she is partnering with African and Caribbean fashion designers to create multiple outfit possibilities for the dolls.
Our one quibble with the Malaville line is that the figures, who have their own personality and profession within the fashion industry, clearly reflect the stereotypical model body. We hope that as the Malaville dolls gain in popularity, they also include diversity of body type as well. The dolls are available to be shipped worldwide.