My first doll, and the many that followed, was also white with blonde hair and blue eyes. By the time Mattel released the original Malibu Barbie (Sun Set Malibu Barbie) in 1971, my doll interest had long faded. By then, however, I too was well aware of Maya Angelou having read I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and years later viewed the film version. She has been one of my "sheroes" for over four decades. For me, her recent transition was comparable to losing a close family member.
According to Mattel's description of the Malibu Barbie reproduced in 2008, "This doll solidified Barbie doll's image as the quintessential California girl." Like many other Barbie themed dolls, the 1971 doll, Sun Set Malibu Barbie, and the 1976 remake, Malibu Barbie, had several friends. The friends included in the 1976 doll set were: Malibu Ken, Skipper, Francie, Christie, and PJ. These dolls are illustrated below in a scan of page 117 from Barbie Doll Photo Album 1959 to 2009 Identification and Values by the late J. Michael Augustyniak (Collector Books, 2010).
Malibu Barbie (first doll, first row above) is one of the many Barbies made to portray the global ideal of feminine beauty. A minute percentage of females, however, actually possess the doll's California-girl appearance, reflecting the fallacy of this one standard of beauty concept.
|Malibu Christie, Mattel, 1976 (box date 1975)|
Just look at my favorite Malibu doll -- Malibu Christie (second doll, row two in the scanned image and immediately above). Her beauty shines through her smooth ebony complexion, her jet black hair, her oval brown eyes, her broad nose underneath an almost absent nasal bridge, and her fuller-than Barbie's lips. I purchased two Malibu Christies shortly after my enthusiasm erupted in the early '90s for dolls that accurately portray people who look like me.
|My two Malibu Christie dolls.|
Thank God for the Maya Angelous of the world who instilled and continue to instill a sense of self-worth in girls of all colors, teaching them to realize just how phenomenal they are now and how much more they can become when they learn to love every inch of themselves first without attempting to look like another or ever feel they are insignificant. When they love themselves first without seeking approval from others, exploring and cultivating their interests, becoming life-long knowledge seekers, and motivated achievers will then become second nature.
Just as Dr. Angelou's poem became an affirmation for Michelle Obama long before she became the first African American First Lady of the United States, it should become doctrine for little girls and women around the world:
by Maya Angelou
(first published in Cosmopolitan in 1978)
Pretty women wonder where my secret lies.I’m not cute or built to suit a fashion model’s sizeBut when I start to tell them,They think I’m telling lies.I say,It’s in the reach of my arms,The span of my hips,The stride of my step,The curl of my lips.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.
I walk into a roomJust as cool as you please,And to a man,The fellows stand orFall down on their knees.Then they swarm around me,A hive of honey bees.I say,It’s the fire in my eyes,And the flash of my teeth,The swing in my waist,And the joy in my feet.I’m a womanPhenomenally.
Phenomenal woman,That’s me.
Men themselves have wonderedWhat they see in me.They try so muchBut they can’t touchMy inner mystery.When I try to show them,They say they still can’t see.I say,It’s in the arch of my back,The sun of my smile,The ride of my breasts,The grace of my style.I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.
Now you understandJust why my head’s not bowed.I don’t shout or jump aboutOr have to talk real loud.When you see me passing,It ought to make you proud.I say,It’s in the click of my heels,The bend of my hair,the palm of my hand,The need for my care.’Cause I’m a womanPhenomenally.Phenomenal woman,That’s me.