Saturday, March 28, 2009

Happy 30th Anniversary Black Barbie (or 29th)...

... depending on how you date your dolls (by box date or by the date the doll was introduced to the market), this year marks Black Barbie's 29th/30th anniversary.

While the #1 Barbie celebrates her 50th anniversary, having been introduced to the doll market on March 9, 1959, the first Black doll to be given the name Barbie did not arrive on the doll scene until 1979 (box year) or 1980 (market year).

Black Barbie (headshot)--the first Black doll to be named Barbie.

Yes, collectors of Barbie dolls had to wait 20 years for the appearance of the afro-sporting; red, disco-style dress-wearing, afro pick-having doll that used the Steffie face mold... Black Barbie! Twenty years they waited and finally she arrived! Black Barbie is still one of the most popular Black dolls in the Barbie doll line. She still surfaces at doll shows and on online auction sites from time to time for varying prices. Most seasoned Barbie doll collectors own her while newbie Barbie doll collectors desire her.

Black Barbie in box (full-length)

Of course the #1 doll has had Black friends and even controversial family. Barbie's black... excuse me, "colored" cousin entered the doll scene in the mid-1960s. Yes, her real name was "Colored Francie ." Unfortunately, Francie experienced an early demise. After her approximate 2-year existence, this dark-skinned beauty was pulled from the market amid complaints from several Barbie "purists" who emphatically opposed Mattel's inclusion of a Black doll in the Barbie line family. This was the mid-1960s; the ink had not yet dried on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 . So, poor "Colored Francie" was axed, expurgated, extracted, dismissed from the doll family/friend line of Barbie.
In 1968, Barbie's first Black friend, Christie, was introduced to the doll market followed by a few others: Cara, Curtis, Brad, and Black Ken, to name a few.

Above are some of Barbie's Black girlfriends.

Above are some of Barbie's Black boyfriends.

While America celebrates the original #1 Barbie's 50th anniversary, I am celebrating Black Barbie and other dark-skinned friends (then and now) of various ethnicities, but especially Black Barbie!
Happy anniversary Black Barbie... you are forever young, beautiful, dynamite (then), and sizzling hot (now)... my sistah!

Debbie Behan Garrett
Copyright 2009 - All rights reserved