Beside Every Good Barbie Is…A Sista: Barbie’s Bold And Beautiful Black Friends Over The Years
What can I say? I love Barbies. I don’t collect any, and most of the ones I held on to for dear life as a child are somewhere crying out for help in my parents’ garage, probably a nosy cat’s play thing, so I’m over the obsession I had with them for so many years as a young’n. But every now and then, when I see photos of elegantly dressed black Barbies, read about them being lauded in magazines overseas, or watch them become fun art exposes on different forms of black life, I can’t help but fall back in love. There were so many black Barbies back in the day and still today, and to take a walk down memory lane, I thought I’d show you some of the most popular ones and flyest ones from over the years. So yes, you can be a kid again–at least for a few minutes.
THROOOOOOWBACK! What do you guys know about Julia?
This big eyed and caterpillar eyelash-having doll was actually based off of Diahann Carroll’s character of Julia from the iconic show of the same name. While they tried to make her to look something like the Christie doll, with those eyebrows and stare, Julia had a personality all her own, especially when you started switching up her hair. The Julia doll was hot in ’69, hence the very groovy attire. Because she was made after Carroll’s likeness, Julia didn’t really get to kick it with Barbie like that, but she was so fab I had to include her.
The beautiful chocolate doll that was Cara was a pretty popular doll in the mid-’70s. She had big brown eyes, big wiry hair (that as you can see could be cut and molded into some sort of ‘fro) and had a perfect pout. She came in a few different versions over the years, including Quick Curl Cara, Free Moving Cara, Ballerina Cara and Deluxe Quick Curl Cara (as in, you can curl that hair with no problem). A beauty!
Another big-eyed doll with some flip-worthy hair, it’s not 100 percent clear which was the first black doll between Francie and Christie, but we do know that homegirl was killing it in the fashion department, right? Originally, Francie is the cousin of Barbie, but of course, they decided to make an adorable black version. But as one blogger put it, she really didn’t have any black characteristics that separated her from the white Francie. Hey, they tried…I guess. She had a good run in the late ’60s and ’70s, but Francie has pretty much faded into the background.
A Barbie with locs that was not made by an outside company? It’s actually been done! Check out Simone with her green and black locs and funky fashion sense. Simone came around in the new Millennium through a group of dolls called Modern Circle. She was one of Barbie’s chicest homegirls, and clearly, she had a thing for green.
Clearly Devon was an ’80s baby with these bright a** clothes. Made in the late ’80, Devon was Dance Club Devon, and in all reality, I really think that she was based around the Lisa Turtle character from Saved By The Bell since the show was pretty popular at the time. Just look at the big hair and short shirts. She was Barbie’s friend that liked to turn up in the club, and you can check out her commercial with her white homies below.
As I said, with the Christie doll, it’s between her and Francie for the black doll that was the first to burst on the scene, but Christie was known for actually looking black. Of course, if the name sounds familiar, it’s because the doll is still around after debuting in the late ’60s. Of course, she’s gone through a few makeovers and has been everything from a talking doll with an afro, to Malibu Christie (movin’ on up!), and many more. Most black Barbie’s after her were made from this particular’s dolls facial sculpt. She’s been one of Barbie’s longest ride-or-die friends (next to Skipper and ‘nem).
Meet Shani, with her big brown eyes and big hair, she was whipping it on other Barbies because she knew she was fabulous. Shani became a dominant doll in the early ’90s and even had her own friends outside of Barbie, and yes, they had creative names like hers (Jamal, Asha, and Nichelle). These dolls were dressed in more Afro-centric garb and special dolls were even made that had them dressed to go to the Soul Train Awards. Dead serious. They were trying to as black as possible with this little lady, ya’ll.
DeeDee came into the picture as a band mate of Barbie’s with a similar love of bright a** clothing and makeup. Her eyes were clearly pretty large and the hair was a big mass of fun curls since that was in during the ’80s. And homegirl could groove. Don’t believe me? Check out the Barbie And The Rocker commercial from back in the day below, even though I’m mad they got all the kids in the video dressed like Madonna:
Another favorite of mine was Nikki. Yes, before there was Nicki trying to claim Barbie status, there was Nikki the Barbie (with the same lipstick as Minaj though). Nikki is one of Barbie’s best friends and she’s been around since ’97. Of course, her face has gone through some changes, but her newest features might be the most realistic they’ve had for a black doll in years. Fabulous!