Artist Karen Byrd, founded Natural Girls United. A company that creates a diverse range of natural hair dolls for young girls to be inspired by.
1. What inspired you to create natural-haired dolls?
As a child, I loved playing with my Barbie dolls. I remembered thinking that they dolls where beautiful – but that they did not look like me. Their features and hair were completely different. So as a child, I had this warped idea that my beauty wasn’t enough. That I was supposed to somehow look like the dolls I played with. And because I didn’t – that maybe I was not as beautiful as I wanted to be or should be. I have always wanted to have a doll that looked like me. I wanted a doll that had features and hair like mine. And I never saw that as a child. As an adult, it has gotten a little better. There has been an occasional doll that looks like us. But often when an ethnic doll comes out, it sells out quickly and is no longer available to shoppers. So we are once again, left with the option of getting a doll that has non-ethnic features with long straight hair. And that is not ok. Our daughters and our community should have dolls, books and images in the media that represent our beauty just as readily as these things are available to non-ethnic cultures.
2. What does the process involve in making the dolls?
I started creating styles by being very creative and using my imagination. Using a lot of inspirational photos. I would try something new, and if it worked, improve upon that technique. Or if it didn’t work, try something else. A lot of trial and error. It is a fun process seeing what I can come up with when trying to create new hairstyles. I always start with a doll that has straight hair. From there, depending on the style I want to achieve – I will either customize the hair that is already on the doll to have an ethnic hairstyle. Or I will remove the hair on the doll and add my own blend of hair to create the desired style.
3. Where can people find out more about your work?
Natural Girls United: www.naturalgirlsunited.com
4. Are you natural yourself? What does your current hair routine include?
I have long Loc’s that I care for on my own. I wash my hair twice month, make sure that my hair is wrapped with a silk scarf every night and keep my hair moisturized. One of the best things that has happen during my natural hair journey is my being able to share my story and experience with the natural hair community on my blog Naturally Beautiful Hair (http://naturalhairbeauty.blogspot.com/). I have learned alot and have gained a sense of personal strength because of all the people that have shared their own stories and experiences. I will be forever grateful for having had an opportunity to share my joy of having natural hair with others in my community and in other communities world wide.
5. Why do you think it is important for dolls with different textures and styles to exist?
There are many types of beauty in the world. But only a small percentage of the world’s beauty is represented in the media and in the toys that are available to our children and young women. We need to address this issue by providing positive images that represent our beauty. A little child, young woman, parent or relative should be able to go into a store and say, “Wow! That doll looks just like me.” Or just like their child or a child they know. There needs to be positive images of brown and black skin everywhere, so that we can start really believe and know that we are worthy of loving ourselves for who we are.
Reposted from TransitioningMovement.com
We also love Mattel’s natural doll, Kara, available online at Barbie.com.