Skinny, white Barbie is out, and a new wave of black dolls and dolls with different body shapes is in. It’s good enough to get me in formation. Yes, that was my first impression as a black girl when I first went online to view the hyped Mala Dolls.
Caribbean-born model Mala Bryan’s new dolls wear vivacious African- and Caribbean-inspired outfits, and each doll has its own kind of curled hair – from Afros to kinky to wavy curls. What stands out is their skin tone: the collection has it all, from light brown to the darkest shade of black, and each of the four dolls – Malina, Maisha, Mala and Mhina – reflects a different lifestyle.
Bryan says on her blog: “I personally am a doll collector and felt the need to create something I felt was missing in my collection and also something I felt other doll collectors and lovers [both adults and children] would love to add to their collections.”
Mala dolls are brought to life on Instagram, where they go on photoshoots and showcase fashion indoors and outdoors.
On the other side of the spectrum, Mattel has now added diversity to its Barbie dolls, in an attempt to try to up their appeal after years of declining sales. New Barbies now come in tall, curvy and petite shapes. Unfortunately, the black Barbie still wears a weave and doesn’t rock natural hair like a Mala doll.
But if you’re looking for a truly authentic South African doll, shop for the local Ntomb’enhle Dolls, which #Trending has featured many times over the years. They come in eight different sets of traditional attire based on South Africa’s diverse culture.
Now children have an opportunity to own a doll they can closely relate to and be empowered by in terms of colour, style, body shape and fashion sense.
Our only worry is that both the Mala and Ntomb’enhle dolls might be too pricy for the average South African child’s parents to afford. Each Mala doll costs R280, and each Ntomb’enhle doll costs R260. We hope more affordable options will be available soon.
* Shop for Mala Dolls at malaville-toys.myshopify.com. Shop for Ntomb’enhle Dolls at ntombenhledolls.co.za. The new range of Barbies will be in major toy stores soon
* This article was updated on Tuesday February 16 to reflect the correct price of the Mala doll