Natural hair dolls? Love it!

I could have definitely used this when I was growing up. There’s a line of dolls geared towards black girls and they sport natural hair styles! Yes. Natural. Hair. Styles.

Natural Girls & Women United makes custom ethnic dolls, which are designed to “bring a positive view of what ethnic beauty is,” according to the site’s About page.

As a child, founder Karen Byrd said while growing up, she loved playing with her Barbie dolls. However, she noted she was all too aware that those dolls didn’t particularly look like her. That, she said, affected what she thought was beautiful.

As a result, she’s come up with this:

Courtesy Natural Girls & Women United
Courtesy Natural Girls & Women United

And this:

Screen Shot 2013-10-19 at 1.52.28 PM
Courtesy Natural Girls & Women United

Growing up, I also played with Barbie dolls. While my mother did purchase dolls of color while growing up, I did have relatives who purchased white Barbie dolls for me to play with — behavior my mother would always give the low-key side eye to). Despite having a parent that was aware of celebrating black beauty, I was still bombarded with images in various forms of media that elevated women and beauty that conformed to acceptable European standards. And, like Byrd, this had an impact on what I perceived to be beauty. It took me going natural to even acknowledge how much of a hold white supremacy had on my mindset.

I’m sure that’s something many black women can attest to as they’ve come of age in an era of oppressive white supremacy.

All too often, black children (and black adults, too) are force fed images that subliminally remind us that how we look — our blackness and the physical features that accompany it — are antithetical to what the standard is. Our blackness is viewed as something to be commodified when whiteness is feeling exotic or adventurous, but it’s not worthy enough as something to be lauded as equal to white European beauty standards.

At any rate, I’m more than thrilled to see Karen Byrd’s venture gain national attention for her quest to dismantle the harmful mental affects of white supremacist beliefs engrained into every fabric of our lives.