A ‘Black Barbie’ documentary is coming to Netflix

How three women helped young, black girls feel represented by Mattel.

First hitting shelves in 1959, Mattel’s Barbie has gone on to become world’s most famous fashion doll, selling over one billion units. Over the years, it has proven itself to be a cultural phenomenon that shows no signs of abating. Yet Barbie’s history is far more complex than many would realise.

In a new Netflix documentary titled Black Barbie, director Lagueria Davis is exploring how three black women, Beulah Mae Mitchell, Kitty Black Perkins, and Stacey McBride Irby, worked towards introducing a black version of the Barbie doll. 

Through interviews with insiders, the documentary promises to take audiences behind the scenes at Mattel in the days leading up to the groundbreaking moment the doll made its debut in 1980.

The series is being produced by Shondaland, the production company behind series like Bridgerton, and seeks to go beyond the pop cultural significance of the black Barbie. Instead, it aims to show how a doll is never simply ‘just a doll’ to the child playing with it, but rather a catalyst for building imagination and forming one’s identity, making black Barbie even more important.
Black Barbie will be released on Netflix on Wednesday, June 19.

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