by Kaaliyah Barnes
Every girl can remember the days of claiming Barbie as her first best friend. The days of dressing her in her pink clothes, pushing her in a pink Porsche, and changing her into her pretty pink swimsuit for a day on the beach. What many girls may not know is that Barbie is more than just a doll “wrapped in plastic”. For years Mattel has dedicated a look-alike doll to women that inspire young girls to stand up for what they believe.
On Saturday, September 26, Mattel has dedicated a Barbie to the young starlight Zendaya Coleman for her courage and bravery standing up to the E! News host, Giuliana Rancic. As you may recall, last February, Rancic made an offensive statement about Coleman’s hairstyle saying she feels as if she smells like “patchouli oil . . . or weed” then continuing with saying “Yep. Weed”. Coleman then responded in a letter addressed to Rancic saying “There’s a fine line between funny and disrespectful” and that wearing Locs should not be a reason to smell like patchouli oil or weed.
As a result of this letter of defense, for herself and many other African Americans, Mattel has acknowledged her maturity and awarded her with the gift many young girls has dreamed of—a look-alike Barbie. This award from Mattel is a huge accomplishment, not only for Zendaya, but also for millions of young girls of color. When announcing the news via Instagram, the Disney star said, “When I was little I couldn’t find a Barbie that looked like me.”
Growing up a girl of color, there was not a variety of Barbie dolls to choose from, therefore having a limited addition doll designed after her is enough to show young girls that there can, in fact, be equally as beautiful black dolls for them as well.
Although achieving a look-alike Barbie is a huge movement and impact on African American history, Coleman is not the first to achieve this reward. On Monday, September 28, rapper Nicki Minaj took to Instagram, as well, to display her Barbie doll that she was awarded with in 2011.
She captioned the picture “Congrats on your doll, Zendaya, Did u know Barbie made me one a cpl years back?”
Then she continues to express how much of an achievement it is to gain a Barbie doll created in her image. This comment by Nicki created frenzy on social media, leaving everyone confused. Is she throwing shade at Zendaya for simply not giving attention to the previous black Barbie dolls before her? Is she only using Zendaya’s spotlight to bring attention to her own doll from 2011? Or is Nicki genuinely happy for Zendaya gaining such an award at such a young age?