Growing up a ’90s kid, Barbie dolls were most definitely an important aspect of my day. I couldn’t wait for school to be over so I could rush home and play with my Barbie Dream House. What was always a little discouraging was that the dolls never looked like me; I never found a Barbie that was biracial or even one that closely resembled my coloring or my hair type and I’m sure I wasn’t the only little kid that felt that way. As a child you don’t necessarily grasp a concept such as race, but you most definitely pick up on social cues, like there being only white dolls, or that your father who is African American and a man who is white get treated differently. As much as we’d like to think that as a society we’ve matured, that isn’t the case.
We can see the prevalence of this situation along with the issue of stereotypes in an episode of Fashion Police that aired in February following the Oscars. Zendaya Coleman looked as flawless and fierce as always wearing a gown by Vivienne Westwood as well as faux dreadlocks at the Oscars, and her look was one of others that the Fashion Police discussed. Much of the discussion was praising which duh! – But things became uncomfortable when a comment was made about her locks saying that she probably smelled like “patchouli oil, or maybe weed.” After hearing about the show Zendaya handled it in such a mature fashion that you couldn’t help but praise her. Due to the mature manner in which she handled the situation and for encouraging young girls to ‘raise their voice’ Barbie honored her with a look-alike Barbie Doll, which I don’t know about you, but that is most definitely one of those dream come true moments! A time in her life where she could say “Mama I made it!”
Traditionally, Barbie has received much dislike due to the stereotypical image they use to portray women, but what is now starting to happen is an expansion and change within the company. Zendaya commented that before receiving her Barbie, she visited the headquarters and got the chance to see how they plan on diversifying the image of Barbie and making it more open to all. “What was Barbie, is no more,” comments Zendaya about the toy company. The future of Barbie is what made Zendaya want to partner with them and assist in hosting the Rock n Royals Concert that took place on Sept. 26. The event celebrated the release of the latest Barbie movie as well as putting out an encouraging message to young girls to ‘raise their voice.’ Many people may just think of Zendaya as the girl from Disney Channel, but what they fail to see is that this little girl is now 19-years old and has grown up into an amazing young woman. Not only has she stood up for the African American culture but she’s also expressed to young girls the importance about being comfortable with who you are.
With the release of the Zendaya Barbie doll, this message of self-confidence will continue to grow and hopefully reach young girls everywhere. Zendaya commented in an interview, “I think number one is knowing that it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s not like anyone is born with perfect self-confidence. It takes time to learn who you are and understand and be happy with yourself. So take your time.”