Realistic Black Dolls

 Rooti Creations is releasing a line of realistic black dolls that speak a variety of African languages in an effort to help black girls to identify with their cultural roots.

Although toy dolls have been around for centuries and have evolved over time to reflect the changes in society around the world, the Rooti Creations firm thinks its time to address the lack of realistic dolls for black children.  Although there have been black dolls available in the past like the popular black Barbie released in 1980, and many other black dolls have followed that trend, there has never really been a black doll aimed at teaching young black girls to identify with their distinctive cultural roots. Now Rooti Creations is addressing the problem with what it claims are the first talking fashion dolls to speak a range of different languages from African countries ranging from Ghana to Zimbabwe that are designed to help the Western children of African parents to stay in touch with their heritage.

Chris Chidi Ngoforo, founder of United Kingdom-based Rooti Creations, says "The idea of Rooti dolls is to create that early interest in our children in their own culture, an appreciation of where they come from and to improve their self-esteem. My three daughters love dolls that look and dress like them," said Ngoforo. "But my daughters couldn't speak a word of Igbo, which is the ethnic group in Nigeria that I come from. They were my inspiration to ­create a doll that could provide a positive image and also teach them our languages." The Rooti dolls are targeted to take advantage of a resurgence in confidence among African migrants in the UK who now have an increasing desire to connect back to their cultures.

The Rooti dolls represent an attempt to reshape the doll industry that many people of African descent still believe reflects racial prejudices. In the past, Mattel’s range of African-American Barbie dolls with names like Chandra, Zahara, Trichelle and Janessa were viewed negatively by some who said the dolls did not go far enough in portraying realistic black women.

Unrealistic depictions of black people have been controversial since the 1950s, and early psychological tests with black children given dolls that were identical to white dolls except for their skin color, found the children associated the black dolls with negative stereotypes. To rectify the situation, the new Rooti black dolls are created in a more realistic image of black people with wider noses, fuller lips, long curly hair and skin tones in various shades of black. It remains to be seen how the Rooti dolls will fare in the toy market, but not everyone is convinced the concept will work as planned because some critics are already saying that despite their more realistic African facial features, the Rooti dolls all have long curly hair that may end up reinforcing negative messages about natural Afro hair and could add to the growing trend for black women and girls to employ hair extensions that reflect white culture.


Images courtesy of Adam Freidin, pasukaru76, photogirl7.1

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