Positive image reinforcement has often been a challenge for women-and-girls of color. This is especially the case in media, fashion and the toy industries.
Nothing has been more enlightening on the impact of positive reinforcement at an early age than a set of scientific focus groups with young children coined the ‘Doll Test’ which asked children to identify dolls on a range of good and bad characteristics.
Unsurprisingly, children-of-color and white children overwhelmingly attributed good characteristics to white or lighter skinned dolls.
For its part in helping young girls to form more positive self-images and esteem, Mattel is again making considerable efforts to be far more inclusive in its doll representation.
This week, Mattel announced another line of dolls representing an even broader spectrum of sizes, colors and body types.
While the move for more diversity is important, it is also reflective of the need for Mattel to remain competitive amongst an ever growing diversity landscape where the historical brand has been out-performed by more culturally connected doll brands. This was seen, for example, in Nigeria where the Queens of Africa dolls have been out-selling Barbie.