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Glamour’s Senior Features writer, Thobeka Phanyeko shares her inspirational journey with Barbie

Glamour Senior Features writer, Thobeka Phanyeko
Glamour Senior Features writer, Thobeka Phanyeko

I don’t remember the exact moment I fell in love with Barbie but my mom always made sure I had the latest doll, and before I knew it, I had a whole collection. I have fond memories of playing with my dolls, styling them and creating a fun and colourful world for them.

I’d get lost in this imaginary world which was also inspired by my love for reading.

I had an active imagination so it was easy for me to create different scenarios while playing dress-up. Fast forward to adulthood, as a mom to a little girl, the “you can be anything” captured my attention, reigniting my love for Barbie. I am intentional about the content my daughter consumes so this message was really powerful and resonates with my teachings.

Image: Supplied

And finally seeing brown dolls with natural hair is an absolute joy! This validates our daughters that they are enough, and seeing their faces reflected back at them affirms that it is indeed new dawn. Barbie is championing the representation and inclusivity era and elevating the conversation around body positivity.

I am particularly inspired by the “Barbie Extra” campaign because it’s a celebration of self-expression and creativity. My journey with Barbie has been an inspirational one, and it warms my heart to see my daughter playing with her dolls, placing them in their own medical practices, while others are artists, DJ’s, mechanics and firefighters. She also takes the same dolls and dresses them up for a fashion show. Women are occupying space, and the word “Extra” makes it ok for us to show up unapologetically, whatever that looks like. As a creative, I express myself through my outfits as this also sets the tone for how I show up in the world. When I look good, I want to spread positive vibes, and my clothes make a statement before I even utter a word. I have a playful personality and my clothes allow me to switch it up, tone it down, be extra, be a Barbie or a boss babe. There's a “Barbie Extra” outfit inspiration to complement every mood. At my best, I am free!

The Barbie Extra Line is Totally Over-the-Top but Sending the Right Message

Mattel’s new Barbie Extra dolls are playful, colourful, and unique with the aim to encourage your child’s self-expression.

Encouraging kids to embrace their differences and uniqueness is important and Mattel aims to do just that with its latest line of Barbie dolls bringing new meaning to the phrase "You're so extra."

The Barbie Extra line features eye-catching dolls with their own distinct playful look and posable, articulated bodies. There's one doll rocking Afro puffs and braids with a rainbow fur coat; a curvy one with two-tone pink and purple hair; another curvy doll with bright blue hair in a top knot; one with trendy sunglasses and rainbow braided hair; and a blonde doll with pink streaks and a fluffy pink jacket.

And that’s not all—each doll comes with adorable pets to boot. Think of a pet Rottweiler in a pink car, twin kittens wearing tiaras, and even a pet pig with a unicorn flower crown headband. How "extra" is that? "The dolls are fun and playful, letting kids dial-up their self-expression and fashion fantasy play by showing them you can be a trendsetter at every age," Kim Culmone, Mattel’s senior vice president and global head of Design Barbie & Fashion Dolls

What inspired these eccentric dolls and they're "more is more attitude?" The company drew inspiration from street style, fashion runways, media, and culture. “Our design team is tuned in and continuously looking at the latest fashion, beauty, and cultural trends for new Barbie looks," says Culmone. "And, as ‘extra’ has become a part of girls’ vernacular, our team was inspired to create a new line of playful and over-the-top dolls that encourage maximum self-expression."

Barbie’s embrace of diversity and being more inclusive of people of all shapes, sizes, colours, and abilities has been an ongoing campaign. In 2019, more than half of all the company’s dolls were diverse—and it’s no secret customers are loving it. Seven of the top 10 bestselling dolls from the Fashionistas line last year were diverse, including one that uses a wheelchair, while the top-selling doll nearly every week was a curvy Black doll with an Afro hairstyle, according to Mattel.

WATCH: The Barbie Extra Music Video

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