Shiona Turini’s history with Barbie dolls is similar to that of many Black women. Store shelves would be brimming with Barbie dolls in a range of different hair color shades—blonde, brunette, red, black, etc.—but when it came to complexion shades, options were few and far between. Then, in 1980, Turini’s sigh of relief came in the form of a Black Barbie with an afro, clad in a fire red dress with gold accessories. Now, the former fashion editor and costume designer is making her own Barbie history by collaborating with Barbie Style to produce a a diverse collection of Black dolls in honor of Black History Month.
“It was important for me to reflect Barbie as an icon through the lens of black culture during Black History Month,” Turini said in a statement. “I drew inspiration from the first black Barbie, who debuted her all-red look in 1980. My vision was to style diverse dolls in bold looks with themes seen throughout my work, like contrasting snakeskin and leopard challenging traditional uniformity.”
Turini’s four-pronged collection showcases the versatility of Black beauty and features 10 models of different skin tones and sizes, including a doll in a wheelchair, in various color palettes, including soft sherbet colors, all black, brown mixed with snakeskin, and red, the latter inspired by and featuring the first Black Barbie doll.
“Here she is, on her customized throne, surrounded by friends created and styled by me. I hope other young children, and adult Barbie lovers, are as excited to see themselves reflected in these dolls as I am,” Turini wrote on Instagram.
“Thank you @barbiestyle for collaborating with me to create barbies with braids, finger waves and everything in between. Chicks by the layers, all different flavors. And even a curvy doll, in a crop top, with waist length twists. Baby Shiona is PROUD. Representation matters and I’m so grateful to be a part of this moment,” she also said.