Barbie has recently begun revolutionizing its iconic dolls. The company has expanded the size of its dolls to be more realistic, introduced a game developer doll, and featured a Latina and Black doll in its holiday collection. However, most Barbie dolls, and other dolls marketed to children, have the same hair: long, straight, and completely foreign to most Black children.
That's why Malaville Dolls, the brainchild of St. Lucian model Mala Bryan, is so important. Bryan's dolls are as stylish as Barbie, with similar body types and bendable limbs, but they also boast a variety of natural hairstyles, including locs, afros, and curly puffs, and are sold in an array of complexions.
Malaville Dolls also wear colorful African and Caribbean-inspired clothing.
Bryan began creating and selling dolls at 18 to guests at a hotel she worked in. However, she became serious about representation after she only found white dolls when attempting to buy Barbies for a giveaway in St. Lucia.
"I went shopping for toys to give away to some children back in my hometown in St. Lucia but had a very tough time finding black/brown ones," she told Mic. "So I ended up buying only white Barbies — this bothered me a tiny bit, as I wanted to give the children dolls that were more relatable to them."
A few years later, Bryan decided to manufacture her own dolls. She chose everything from each doll's hair texture to their skin complexion.
"The focus was for the hair texture, the skin tone and natural/no make to be relatable," she said. "I chose the hair fibers from kinky curls to a loose curl."
Her debut collections features four dolls: Maisha, Mala, Malina, and Mhina. They all have coarse, natural hair.
Each doll costs $20 — and parents are seemingly buying them in droves for their Black children.
Despite the popularity, Bryan has encountered hatred about the complexion of the dolls, especially the darker skin of Maisha.
In July, an Instagram commenter said that Maisha is "too dark." Bryan blasted him on Instagram by sharing the comment and including the caption: "Sending lots of love to the beautiful dark-skinned people out there, especially to those that share the same complexion as our #MaishaDoll," she wrote. "Just know that your Black is beautiful."
There's nothing worthier for any child, especially a Black child, to know and understand — and that's what the Malaville Doll is all about.
Revelist has reached out to Mala Bryan for comment.