Ethiopia Barbie

She just may be the world’s first Ethiopian Barbie. After searching the vast reaches of cyberspace we have determined that Barbie is a very “white privelege” toy. If you want a ethnic barbie you may find a caucasion features Barbie with some dark skin, or you can pay $300 for a designer Barbie that actually has ethnic features. There appears to be a few Barbies that have been released over time that actually have “black” hair, now try to actually find one at a department store. I guess in teh Barbie world everybody uses relaxers in their hair? To give them credit though, in the line of Barbie’s that we found this one there was a Ken with a fro. My awesome wife took this Beach Barbie with very straight hair and turned her into what you see before you now.

This is how the Ethiopian Barbie began. We purchased her for about $5 from Walmart hoping that the kinks you see in her hair where in all of her hair. Guess what? It’s not.

Actually we spent the first few minutes trying to decide if this Barbie was actually black, had a bad tan, or was supposed to be racially ambigous. But she was the blackest Barbie dall we could find at any department store so she was going to have to do.

It’s worth noting here that this is also the only Barbie in the beach line to have a tattoo. Luckily the tattoo is around her belly button so it doesn’t show in her transformation.

No, I can’t even braid my daughters hair and have it look good, she calls my hair styles her “daddy hair” normally when she has “daddy hair” she runs to mommy to get it fixed before anyone sees. But I did watch my wife braid the dolls head, it didn’t look any fun to me.

Now Barbie is really “Christie” here. And I discovered in looking for a photo of the original Barbie in the box that she is Barbie’s first black freind. It seems as if over the years she has had a lot of plastic surgury but this is the 2005 model, who knows what the future holds.

Her neckalce was the only peice of the outfit that I created, it’s a leather shoelace cut in half with a crimping bead for the silver peice. This signifies her as a good Orthodox Barbie, she’s been baptised and everything. Super glue is holding it together so hopefully it will last a while.

The dress is a cheesecloth like material, it’s very close to the actual cloth made in Ethiopia. I would post a picture of my wife in her Ethiopian dress but she has banned me from even using her name out here on what she call a nacisistic diary.

The bracelet is the same design as what we made for the kids and the necklaces that we wear. It has the beads with red – white – and blue, and the beads with red- yellow – and green. America and Ethiopia, two cultures that will be forever blended in our family.

She is also wearing traditional style silver anclets. I guess she is from an affluent family in Ethiopia.

We made the doll to send to Ethiopia for our daughter to play with, we don’t know when we will be able to send it as we have to wait on the next set of families to travel to the home to pick up their kids. Hopefully we will be in the next set but we don’t know.

We are looking to find a Barbie out there with a reasonable price tag with ethnic hair. Our daughter is going to have a family of fine straight haired people, the least we can do is give her some dolls that look like she does. Does anyone know of a Barbie knock off that they let they don’t use relaxers in the hair?

I know the humor factor in this post has been low, sorry about that. I had a really funny post with all of these pictures but my stupid computer lost the post so you are getting this one, it’s fast and dirty but it’s out here and you can see the labor of love my wife created for our new daughter.

17 Responses to “Ethiopia Barbie”

  1. Ingenious! Heck I’m impressed. My sister had a Christie doll back in the mid-60s. I used to stick her head in puddles to simulate washing.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    Great blog–thanks for posting!

  3. wow, now that’s dedication. Personally, I’d like to see less-pretty and maybe realistically proportioned barbies (but I know it’s asking too much) in addition to ones with more hair/skin type/tone varieties.

    Not that I care about barbies in anything but the most abstract and indirect possible way, of course.

  4. Geat job!
    can I get help how u came up with barbi dall

  5. Aisha Shiferaw Ambaye Says:

    hey – my goodness god bless you!!! Im a 22yr old australian girl who is married to an ethiopian. He has very recently migrated with me here down under and i just had a conversation with him yesturday about an ideal barbie doll for ethiopians!!!!!! You see im studying media communications and i have to do a creative response to a lecture that brought up some issues about barbie. I was immediately inspired to have a go at making an ethiopian barbie! – i have a few suggestions for alterations to your barbie:

    – find out what tribe your daughter comes from and include some features of that tribe – maybe some traditional tatoos???

    – if you hold some heat up to the hair you may be able to tease it up a little??

    – both of my ethiopian sisters in law actually have beautifull and naturally straight hair – this is not saying that afro hair is not as beautiful.

    _ i love her gabi but what about some other traditional clothes??? A cross around her neck?

    – could she have her own injara oven?? Buna tea pot and set???(coffee)

    – maybe she could have a mosab and an ethiopian ken to eat with.?????

    You know, my husband had never actually heard of a barbie doll and didnt orginally understand the concept. Im not sure how many young ethiopian girls would be familliar with it either. The barbie’s face really could represent an a very pretty ethiopian woman and we all know how many of them there are but i do think that these features need to be changed. Our children do not need to have pressure put on them from an early age to look picture perfect or ‘barbie’ perfect. i think that exposing ethiopian children to this aspect of western culture could well indeed be dangerous. In india they already have high demands to be westernised. They have creams called “fair and lovely” to bleach their skin. I know that ideals of beauty in ethiopia are different – maybe these ideals could be brought into an ethiopian barbie doll. In regards to my uni project i plan to mold the doll from some kind of clay – therefore change her shape. Maybe i could send you some pictures of the finnished product.

  6. The issue with the world is that “Black” is NOT a monolith phenotype all continental Africans do not have the same hair texture nor facial features. You are speaking of the persons all human life came from thus all those features continue to be expressed in the faces features and hair textures of African people. Don’t fall for the hype of ignorance common in the world.

  7. this barbie is very beautiful 😉

  8. It’s true, most black Barbie dolls have “relaxers”. However, there are a couple of “playline” Barbies with a more natural looking texture. Star Skater Christie and Generation Girl Nichelle have a wonderful kinky texture that is styled in a ponytail. These dolls were made back in the 90’s, so they can only be found on E-bay. I don’t remember how much I paid for them, but I don’t think it was more than $30. Another playline is “Cali Girl Christy”, who has a curly “mixed” hair texture. Top Model Nikki (there are two versions) also has a curly mixed hair texture. To my knowledge, that’s it for the playlines. (Someone please correct me if I have missed some.)

    The collectibles have many more dolls with a natural looking hair texture. Although they tend to cost much more than the playlines, I do not think you have to spend $300. The thing is that the collectibles are sold in limited quantities, and once they are discontinued by Mattel, the prices get inflated on the secondary market. Most, if not all of the dolls in the Byron Lars collection have natural looking hair textures and features. My favorite is “Sugar Barbie” who is currently being sold on for about $100. Mbili, (sold on secondary market for about $200), is gorgeous, with a kinky fro, velvety dark color, and a very fashion forward outfit. Tatu Barbie also deserves an honorable mention.

  9. Ok I like the idea that you are trying to create. I am a 26 year old Ethiopian woman. Just to let you know a lot of Ethiopians have straight or curly hair. So the barbie shown here is actually very similar to what Ethiopian girls look like.

  10. beautiful doll. you may also want to check out where they market Mekeda Queen of Sheeba, an Ethiopian doll in traditional dress

  11. Do visit ETHIDOLLS.COM

    Started by two Ethiopian born entrepreneurs, EthiDolls develops authentic African dolls and accessories based on African women leaders from history. The dolls, books and audio CDs celebrate cultural diversity and introduce new play patterns.

    EthiDolls’ mission is to develop unique dolls and related accessories, based on the lives and stories of a diverse group of historic African women leaders, that help children and adults embrace African heritage, culture and tradition, as well as teach the wonders of diversity as African culture emerges into popular consciousness.

    The first collectible quality educational doll is based on the ancient legend of Makeda, The Queen of Sheba, the first female ruler of Ethiopia, the land known as “the cradle of civilization.” The storybook is beautifully illustrated by a young Ethiopian artist, and the audio CD provides a compelling narration of Queen Makeda’s rise to the throne and her legendary journey to visit King Solomon in Jerusalem.


  13. Hey:

    Great Job! I’m half Ethiopian/Eritrean and loving the doll your wife made. Would she consider making a special order for sale? Curious. Thanks & Take Care.

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  16. I am Ethiopian , I usually hate the brand Barbie.. But this doll ‘s look is so close to a genuine..Just wish her name was not Barbie..

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