It’s likely that if you are a female with a head of curly or kinky hair and you played with dolls as a child, those dolls looked nothing like you. Even if you were lucky enough to have a doll that had a skin color close to yours, that doll probably also had long, straight hair.
St. Lucian model Mala Bryan has decided that this needed to change, so she created beautiful Malaville dolls to little girls of color can play with a doll that is more relatable to them. These dolls have bodies similar to Barbie’s, with a range of brown skin tones and heads of luscious curls.
This marks a wonderful shift in the availability of diverse toys for little girls, allowing them to celebrate who they are. Because the beauty standard of fair skin and straight hair still prevails, these dolls mean slow but steady progress for us all.
These dolls also have clothing that’s brightly colored and specifically African and Caribbean in nature. The dolls are very appealing and attractive.
Bryan has been a full time model for years but got into the doll industry when she was 18 years old. While her modeling career took off, she took a break from her dolls, but she soon got back into making them.
She began the process of manufacturing her own, which involved picking various shades of brown for the eyes and other facial details like beauty marks, eyebrow shapes and freckles. Of course, hair texture was a huge part of the puzzle, and the textures range from loose curls to tight kinks.
The dolls debuted with their own names this past year; Maisha, Mala, Malina and Mhina. They have their own personalities and even Instagram accounts, where Bryan often uses hashtags such as #blackdolls and #afro.
As diversity and blackness are embraced more and more, there are sure to be more dolls like Malaville coming to us in the future.