Barbie Exposé : “QUEENS OF AFRICA”

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Taofick Okoya is making Barbie doll news. Mr. Okoya started making Nigerian dolls in 2007, as a result of him not being able to find any black dolls to give to his niece, amidst seas of shops. He not only created the dolls for his niece, he also made them for his daughter, whom he expressed use to wish she was white.

He equipped the dolls with traditional Nigerian outfits and accessories, and traditional Nigerian hair styles which included different types of braids and head wraps. The dolls, modeled after the three biggest tribes in Nigeria, now make up 15% of Nigeria’s toy market and are outselling Barbie, according to dailymailco.uk

But the “Queens of Africa” collection is not limited to Nigeria, it also extends to America, Brazil and Europe. The dolls are ordered and sent in an online sphere, but now Taofick is fighting to get the dolls in central stores, an idea he said has been largely rejected, but he isn’t going to stop trying.

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I, for one, hope he doesn’t. In a time where people immigrate into America but their first generation children often lose or worse, reject their culture, I think it is imperative we see dolls that look like us and embody our ethnic traditions.

As a child I only played with white dolls, and I never questioned it. I too, like Taofick’s daughter, at some point wished I was white or “mixed”.  These are deep psychological issues that are rooted in us at a young age, and things as small as “dolls” have a big impact on little girls’ psyche. In fact, many would argue that is the first instance in which said little girl is introduced to the idea of “beauty”. In a time when skin bleaching is still prevalent in all areas of the world, Nigeria and America included, I think it’s important to take a look at the subliminal messages we send our kids, especially our girls.

 

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Taofick Okoya, keep fighting the good fight; our culture and little black girls everywhere need more people like you fighting for them.

 

 

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Akanimoh Ekong studies creative writing at the University of Illinois, with special interests in women’s issues as they relate to sexuality and race.

She previously has written “Girlfriends” column for Buzz magazine. Akanimoh believes the art of fashion should be the utmost form of self-expression. She dually enjoys blogging on issues pertaining to fashion and pop culture news.

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