I have always loved long curly hair and as a teenager I used to draw girls with flowing tresses (we did not have he phrase “slayed tresses” in Ireland back then). My own hair is fine, uber-straight and incapable of holding any kind of curl or kink. So drawing curls was the closest I got. And photographing Barbies for BlackHair magazine.
But not everyone who is capable of curls wears their hair curly. There are plenty of reasons for that – which I won’t go into here – but part of it has to do with confidence.
If you think your child might be a naturalista who would like to wear their hair in a natural afro then a book featuring BIG HAIR might guide their journey. When kids are young it’s all about self-image and empowerment. And that’s where books come in. Some books are not specifically about hair but feature a character with a natural style. Most are in the 3 and upwards age-range.
So let’s go. Here is a list of the Top 15 best big hair books for children.
1.Big Hair Don’t Care by Crystal Swain-Bates Most of my book choices feature a child of African descent living outside of Africa and therefore surrounded by European hair. In this book a chirpy little girl faces that situation head on with her poem.
“I’ve got big hair and I don’t care And even though the kids may stare I lift my hands up in the air And smile and say… I love my hair”
I’m mentioning Crystal Swain-Bates again because she has made natural hair something of a cause. Let Amazon guide you to books like Naturally Me, Black Fairy Tales, SuperMommy and many others where the covers depict fabulous fulsome black hair
This book has a Jamaican little girl with Afro puffs on the cover. On the back cover the same girl in her contemporary clothes is seen slapping away happily on African drums. As part of the Irish diaspora I appreciate books that make other people feel at home in all the countries they identify with.
The companion The Alphabet with Bella has artwork of her taking part in what I think is the Notting Hill Carnival waving her British and Jamaican flags and wearing a glorious feather crown. Art is by Katlego Kgabale(Illustrator)
Check out the gorgeous mother in this book with her skinny jeans and natural fro. There is a sweet picture off the little girl sleeping with her hair in a silk scarf as she dreams of an exiting future visiting the Paris, Cuba and Africa. Daveia Odoi is the illustrator.
The author made up this bedtime story to give her daughter, Paris, pride in her hair. the little girl had noticed her hair was different from her schoolmates so mom stepped in! Tyrus Goshay is the Illustrator.
This is my only book with a boy on the cover. (I’ll fix that when I do my blog about books with locs and braids). Mike is always answering questions about being mixed. He knows he’s perfect because this is what his parents say:
Mom and Dad say I’m a blend of dark and light: “We mixed you perfectly, and got you just right.”
There was very little by way of a preview on Amazon so I hopped over to the author’s website – This small and carefully curated site is a delight , well worth a look. It has elegant, girlie art, three dancing bunny rabbits, prints for hanging and a colouring book. And Mechal ships to Europe.
My own book has a strong theme of natural hair. The lead character Bekki the Fairy has a crazy do (don’t ask) but the hairstyle you see most in the book is the loose natural style of Geeky Mikita the genius baby-sitter. I updated the cover to add more of the baby-sitters.
The stylist gave Mikita a grey streak in honour of Albert Einstein. The other models wore their hair as they always had done – I hade worked with the models for years pior and each girl brought her own style – braids for Ruby, natural for Jada-Kai and with extensions for Keysha.
At the back of the book a real life scientist, Mumbi, talked about black hair and gave all the baby-sitters hair advice. There are jobs for female scientists in the hair industry. Black women entrepreneurs played big role in the products we have today. In amongst all the silly scenes in my book is sneaky positive message!
This book really is ‘last but not least’. Urbantoons started following me on Instagram just as I was finishing up this blog. I’m happy he did! He hails from Mali and has wonderful items (dashikis and hi-tops!) on his website celebrating ethnicity, identity and the spread of multiculturalism.
I am planning to rewrite this blog as it needs a tidy up . I probably over do Barbie cos I love her. I probably overdo Amazon because I live in Ireland and black dolls from our neighbours the US and UK can be pricey after Brexit.
I would always advise you to support local toyshops and small businesses and local sellers so I’ll be researching local doll makers. I also want to write more about the amazing dolls coming out of Korea and China and Japan. I have a Blythe blog planned.
But for now, here’s a beautiful new retro Barbie from the Mattel Creations site.
Good news for Madame Alexander dolls
The Madame Alexander story has taken a turn for the better. There is a whole new set of Mme Alexander dolls and the collection has diversity. Have a look here at the Madame Alexander Company’s new site. New owners, makers of girls’ clothing for four genertions, have given this much loved brand new life. In my blog have written about Zola.
Watch out for the Fashionistas
The Barbie Fashionistas are a constantly updated line of male and female dolls of many different colours and shapes and sizes. This year has seen some very lovely blacks dolls – 185 is pictured above. Adult collectors grab the new dolls and give them new made-to-move bodies. It is easy to miss the black dolls so I’ll just flag up three very fine dolls here. Above is Fashionista 185. Below are 186 and the blonde Afro fashionista.
You can be lucky and see these in an ordinary toy shop. You will surely see them on Instagram so my advice is to move quickly and buy before they become rare.
The secret to finding the amazing Barbie and Ken by Bill Greening – Elle and Jon
In the UK and Ireland we know that sometimes we miss out on dolls from the US. I am grateful to the staffer from Mattel UK who explained the secret club for Barbie lovers. The Mattel Creations site lets customers buy special editions from Mattel brands like Barbie, Monster High, Hot Wheels and more. If you want Jon or Elle, this is the best way to get them. Amazon and Ebay are the other option but for a ten dollar fee you get access to these African-identity dolls. I am not saying African-American as I can see from social media that European collectors identify with Elle and Jon too.
The best words for searching for beautiful black Barbie dolls
Yes, we know that Amazon has many hidden treasures when it comes to black Barbie dolls, especially when it comes for finding a specal gift for a special someone. I will share a few words that helped me to find exquisite dols.
A beautiful doll in a stunning gown can make a memorable present for. a child. The Barbie brand is huge and Barbie’s looks are many.
Here are some useful terms to find a gift-worthy black barbie
AA – this means African American, it will be in the product description and a black girl in London will feel the doll could be British. On Amazon UK, the term brunette is helpful if you want to see black dolls.
Collectible – if you use the phrase “Collectible AA Barbie” you will find some amazing dolls, some who date back from the late nineties onwards such as the doll above. Tip- Scroll down! Look who i just found; Tangerine twist is a doll with history.
Birthday – the Birthday Barbies are a great source of stunning dolls.
Signature AA Barbie will give a mixture of dressy and sporty dolls.
Collector doll – Slightly different words bring up slightly different dolls. The words brunette and curvy are helpful.
Holiday and Happy Holidays – add AA and Barbie and here again you will see new and old dolls with different facial sculpts. If you are new to this, be aware hat AA Barbie has many faces.
Keep an eye on the price tags. Searching in this way will throw up some rare and pricey dolls. All Barbies are made with love so find a face and dress you love and don’t be afraid to go back a few years.
Warning- some dolls are for adult collectors, avoid typing in words like Bob Mackie AA Barbie as you may be tempted to buy for yourself.
Nordstrom website has a rare black doll – Always Be Kind Maya
The Nordstrom website is one of very few stockists of Maya, a doll who may be familiar to collectors. There are usually amazing woman behind dolls and in this case it is the doll artist Dianna Effner and Ruby Red, a entrepreneur from Shanghai/Hong Kong. I will tell their stories another time. For now I will show you where to find to Always Be Kind Maya who is one of the Ruby Red Fashion Friends set of five high quality dolls with limited distribution.
Rainbow High black dolls are on sale now- be quick
The Rainbow High dolls will be everywhere this Christmas, I expect. My mum already has hers. The range is big and each series has new characters. In terms of black dolls, Sunny Madison was the first black girl and her skin tone was light. Since then other dolls have been added with a range of skin tones. Daria Roselyn has dark skin and bright pink hair. Krystal Bailey has Indigo hair.
Krystal is pictured in the doll house image below. In the UK I recommend Bentzens Emporium as they get in American dolls who can be hard to find in the usual places. I’m advising you, move quickly! The dolls are amazing with glass eyes, long hair and two complete fashions (that will fit Barbie) in the box. They are deservedly popular. Amazon links are below [ they are affiliate links – I have put in the colouring book too.
Super sweet Sibahle Collection black girl dolls from South Africa
I am delighted to have a new London supplier of beautiful black dolls. The Sibahle Collectionfrom South Africa is available through Etsy and they have many totally PRECIOUS versions of what I call the Bontle doll. The dolls is a 13 inch little girl play doll. This facial sculpt is especially sweet and I have seen her on sale from different sellers. And this version is magnificent!
The selection of dolls available at Sibahle Collection on Etsy is very Afro-Centric. The range of skin tones and colours is very “London”, and representative of black kids ranging from light to dark. African names and bright African prints give this selection of dolls a strong cultural identity. Lovely Christmas presents.
Correction! I said they were from London, in fact these dolls are from South Africa manufactured in Spain, and were developed to showcase Afro hair. I will link here to a video where one of the founders tells the story. Johannesburg is where Bontle comes from and I will fill in the details later today. This is a black hair, representation and doll story.
Who loves babies we love babies
I am adding a very cute website full of sweet babies. It is called Black Baby Dolls. I only just saw them on Facebook and you can have a look at their huge collection of babies here.
Mattel has launched the 2021 Holiday Barbies with a
Mattel’s Barbie’s Signature shop is a good place to be right now. The news this month is the vintage reissue dolls – Superstar Christie and Malibu Christie. But Mattel is also thinking ahad to Christmas (they say holidays) and the 2021 Holiday barbies have landed.
Have a look here to see Letitia, Sutton, Elsie, Diana and Blythe. Kelly, Bess and Saskia, Tracey and Eliot as well as Tisha and Archibald. Yuusef. Dallas and July all have heartbeats.
As far as a I know these dolls are very new and I have not seen on in real plastic life. I can see two sources for buying these dolls online and I will share them here. I don’t collect baby dolls usually so the brand is new to me.
I can see two different sources for these dolls. There is Truly Reborn Dolls who sell silicone dolls – beautifully painted and dressed. Have a look at the website because it is interesting to know how dolls come about.
In the About Us section this company seems to take quality very seriously. The paint jobs are very good. This blog is about black dolls so here is the link for African America dolls and they are delightful. If you love baby dolls, have a look at these babies, twins and toddlers. Like I said, I am not a baby doll collector so i cannot say if the face sculpt is the same for all babies, but it these days of face-ups and repaints, I think a collector would be very happy with the African American dolls
I will also mention and link to the Zero Pam Store’s baby doll on Amazon. This little sweetie does not have the heatrbeat but she comes via Amazon which some people like for valuable dolls. And look, it is the same baby face. Most Zero Pams are light skinned so I looked hard to find this special doll.
Barbie has done it again. Here is another toy that goes beyond being “just a doll”. This male doll with a newly sculpted African American face and a braids and bun hairstyle is pre-selling out fast on Amazon. He is already showing up on eBay. Most ebay sellers are from the US and many are willing to ship abroad. Thanks!
This doll has just shown up with all the other LOOKS doll on barbie.com. Have a look at the photography! He has not come to Amazon UK , yet.
If you are in Europe and looking on Amazon then the full title of this Ken doll is “Barbie Signature Looks Ken Doll (Brunette with Braids & Bun Hairstyle)”. He was designed by Bob Greening. he has and a sturdy articulated body- ideal for posing for photos. He sold out on Amazon and is back now. Hurry, this guy will appreciate in value and, money aside, he is a beautiful doll. When is the last time that dear old Kenneth Sean Carson was this in-demand?
So Hot So Cool
I am very happy to have found a source for this extraordinary black doll – he is Adonis from JHD Fashion dolls. It took some detective work to find out where to buy this doll but look at him! Isn’t he extraordinary.
My blog gets seen in the UK as well as in the US so I will share the results of my UK treasure hunt with you. Some dolls are only available through dealers and for Irish and UK ccollectors this can be frustrating as we wait for a doll to appear on ebay – or do without. That’s why i was delighted to find Simon ‘s Dollstoysngifts. Simon is in Britain and has made a number of fabulous dolls available. He has American Girl, I’m a Girly Girl and Barbie – all ranges that include black toys.
Adonis is notable because of his dramatic look. He is a 1/6 scale figure. I said this would make him a good Barbie boyfriend but perhaps one of the Integrity Toys dolls would suit him better.
The dollstoysngifts site has scooped up dolls from conventions and other places and if you see something you like, move quickly. He also has t-shirts for doll lovers!
I’m now going to link to the parent site to share a list of US dealers. I found Adonis by google So Hot So Cool and that let me to Mizi Doll and JHD Fashion Doll – if you click this link it should bring you to more familiar names. Barbie collectors may know Marl & B already. Adonis may be Hard To Find but that’s all part of the fun.
Introducing a stunning new doll from Australia. Bindi Merinda is one of six dolls by GlamorOZ dolls – she is a Australian Aborigine 18inch figure and has featurred in the Black Dolls Rock Facebook page. Look to see how Son of Ellis has styled her. She can be bought on the GlamourOZ Dolls site.
I will add an Amazon link to a phenomenal new doll – Dr Maya Angelou. I will blog in detail later but this doll is selling fast so here is an Amazon link. The doll has been selling at speed from Target and Walmart. Her price has jumped on Amazon but I think this is down to her massive popularity. Collectors love her but imagine introducing a child to Maya Angelou. I have written about collectors’ reactions to the Maya doll here.
The Skipper babysitters Inc range is doing some very appealing little baby sets at the moment – babies with accessories, babies with sitters and many more. The sets have huge appeal for little kids who want to add babies and toddlers to their Barbie family as well as Instagrammers decorating thier nursery diaramas.
The sets starts at low prices andshow that Mattel are always trying to lets lkids of all colours see themselves in their dolls. This baby is a very affordable little addition to a toy box.
American Girl – a very important doll
This doll is an institution. An 18 inch doll, telling America’s history, herstory and modern stories through dolls and books. As I understand it the doll even has her own shops in the US and the website is. lavish production. So for US readers, you do not need me to tell you about AmercanGirl.com . For anyone in Europe, I am happy to say I have found a dealer in the UK. Dollstoysngifts has some of the 35 anniversary dolls available. I will do a mini blog about Dollstoysngifts as the owner Simon has a good eye for black dolls
American Girl appears on Amazon in many books and some dolls but she was bought by Mattel and she has very very own lavish website. Addy was the first black doll and she has been reissued for the 35 year anniversary. The dolls are making Herstory with accurate high quality reissues of the original dolls who come with their own proper storybooks. The WellieWishers and Bitty Babies are part of the brand too.
My latest mini blog featured a bridal doll from the Barbie shop on Amazon. She is. not listed as a bride but as Barbie 60th Anniversary doll. Here is a beautiful bridal doll for adults or kids.. I have done a mini blog about what makes her special and later I will do a blog about her very lovely face sculpt names “Mbili”. That face was used in the recreation of the first black Barbie from 40 years ago.
Special facial sculpts often feature on early Holiday Barbies.
Why would you buy an old Holiday Barbie? This doll is from 2011 and I love her. The gown has an Irish vibe to it. Is she an Afro-Irish girl?
Head over to my micro blog about a doll I had been ignoring – L.O.L. Surprise! O.M.G. Fashion Dolls -I will add details later today of this Doll of the Year winner.
Do you know what a blind bag i? These big eyed ladies slipped under my radar but kids love ’em.
This Black Label Puma Barbie doll came out in 2018 and i will use her to make a point about buying dolls online. I have removed the Amazon affiliate link as she went to 300 dollars and then sold out!
This doll is on ebay and the prices are between 150 and 300. She is a spectacular doll. I have done. a micro blog on Puma Barbie to point out her unique features – a rare facial sculpt, exceptional clothing design, the link with Puma and the fully articulated body. And she’s just gorgeous!
A new curvy doll – Wildhearts Crew
I am putting in this affiliate link as this Birthday Barbie is so pretty- this blog is about finding dolls that are doing their bit inclusion, big and small companies, UK and US and one Dutch. We cannot ignore Amazon’s contribution. Support local shops where possible but Barbie doll collectors can source hard-to-find girls on Amazon.
This doll has the super sweet Shani sculpt, a much loved face used by Kitty Black Perkins. Carlyle Nuera designed this doll with her the pink-to-lilac ombre dress.
A musical theatre Disney Halloween black Werewolf doll with natural curly, coily hair – Willa Lykensen played by Chandler Kinney makes a notable doll even if you don’t watch Zombies 2.
Disney’s Willa Lykensen doll is Barbie sized doll – almost an action figure – but the attention to detail- moonstone necklace and rock chick clothing make her a gorgeous doll for collectors as well as kids. Mattel must have had some fun with the styling here – just look at hose tats! I have done a mini blog about Willa here.
While researching the Zombies I came a across a fabulous UK store Bentzens Emporium who create mini videos to showcase their dolls. Here is a link to their Zombies videos on YouTube
Anyone who knows me probably knows that I own far too many dolls for someone of my age. My collection of Christie, Wesley, Madison, Nikki and other black Barbie dolls is being taken out of the cupboard for self-isolation.
Below are two notable dolls of 2020, the Fresh Squad men and the Yara Shahidi. I will say more in my mini blogs.
Today I am showing the most representative doll on the market. The dollpreneurs who develop black dolls love it when a parent says “My daughter loves the doll. It looks just like her.” Well how about a doll that IS her.
For the people who ready my blog here’s a tip off. The people at Budsies are taking orders now for their custom dols where you send in a pic and get a doll make in your likeness. The dolls are plush dolls and the artist s need tome to physically make them. This is Christmas gift pricing – around the 100 dollars mark but if you want to show a girl a dolly that is everything she dreams of being then this will deliver the WOW factor. I will micro blo about this soon. I am saying hurry.
The ultimate representative doll – Budsies
Diverse Dolls 4 All
This is a UK site with the mix of dolls you’d expect from the UK. The company names its black dolls with care and respect. As a writer I loved that Malorie Blackman has a doll named in her honour.
Disney Princess Tiana
Princess Tiana is an important doll – if we are talking about representation then that powerful group of Disney Princess really needs to have a black member.
The smallest of girls can cuddle a plush Tiana doll and the Disney company has the might to provide Princess Tiana as a black doll for al ages. She matters.
There are multiple Tiana dolls so I will just note this new comfy Tiana with natural curly, coily hair. She has always had an up do but the natural hair movement inspired a new approach to the doll’s hair.
I found this site when i was looking for Zuree the Patwa talking doll. Kunaka Kids has a fabulous mix of “African and Caribbean Inspired” accessories, stationery, book and, of course, dolls. There is even a music box with a tiny Nia ballerina! Very desirable and cute!
The the doll range is extensive. The African dolls have African names and clothing and come in many different sizes – soft rags dolls, Barbie sized girls and sturdy little girl dolls. I will highlight the 14.5 inch Molemo dolls, proudly wearing their tribal colours- Xhosa, Ndebele and more.
The Zuree doll with her fiesty Jamaican voice box can be seen and heard here. She comes from London but I suspect her heart is in Jamaica.
These flashy 12inch dolls are beloved by adult collectors. The collections of high end fashion dolls include the Ru Paul doll. The Fashion Royalty collection, which is updated every year, has dramatic characters with names like Dasha D’Amboise and Baroness Agnes Von Weiss.