In a time, when we’re still lagging behind in the discussion of equality, diversity, and inclusion in entertainment, sciences, politics, sports, and so many other areas, it’s important to recognize the fact that representation still matters. Moreover, we have to remember that even when it’s been scarce, it has always mattered. Like me, many girls from all over the world were fascinated by Barbie dolls and the whole universe they brought to our own childhoods. However, even when I grew up in a time when “more diverse“ Barbies were out on the market, the classic blonde Barbie, with a pink dress and an amazing lifestyle, still ruled the market: it was the easiest and more affordable doll out there.
I cherish my Barbie dolls and the memories of fun and play they gave me. Yet, I will always remember how happy I was when my grandfather gave me a gorgeous (and a little too stereotypical) Mexican Barbie doll. She stood out from the rest of my collection not only because of her dark hair and skin, but for the traditional attire she proudly wore. I felt, for the first time, that I could somehow relate to this glamorous lifestyle I’d loved immersing myself into. Of course, Mexican Barbie, wasn’t the only doll that represented diversity in the collection.
Barbie dolls appeared on the market in the late fifties. Just a decade later, the brand that created blonde Barbie introduced the very first black doll known as Colored Francie (yep, the name wasn’t perfect at all). A year later, Christie appeared as Barbie’s very good friend. By the seventies, as the brand started gaining lots of popularity around the globe, Mattel saw a great market in making a special collection that could appeal to everyone anywhere. That’s when Barbie’s Dolls of the World collection appeared.
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With dolls from all over the world, proudly wearing their traditional attires, this collection became one of the most inclusive ones in the toy industry. Yes, they do indeed fall under some ridiculous clichés and stereotypes that needed to be changed, but for the standards of those times, they were really revolutionary and inclusive. Here are some of the most iconic dolls from the collection, some of which are currently sold for thousands of dollars.
Philippines (2012) / India (2000) / Japan (1985)
Cambodia (2003) / South Korea (2004) / China (2001)
Kenya (1994) / Ghana (1996) / Morocco (1999)
South Africa (2002) / Nigeria (1990) / Egypt (2001)
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Scotland (2009) / Spain (2007) / Italy (2009)
Ireland (2011) / Greece (2003) / Russia (2009)
Native American (1998) / Southern Plains (1995) / Alaska (2000)
Canada (2013) / Arctic (1982) / Navajo (2004)
Jamaica (1992) / Mexico (1996) / Puerto Rico (1997)
Chile (1998) / Brazil (2012) / Peru (1986)Read more: The Dark Barbie Doll Movie That Shows The Demise Of A Superstar
I still have my Mexican Barbie from 1996 as a real treasure of my childhood and as part of my roots. I loved her so much that I even asked my mom to get me the exact same dress to match. Yes, even today Barbie still falls under some stereotypes but we have to admit that even today, they’re still game-changers by including many more realities into their Barbie world.
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Images from Barbie Mattel