Over the weekend, my Twitter timeline and Facebook newsfeed were both flooded with praise for Mattel for their production of Zendaya Coleman’s gorgeous 2015 Oscars look, faux locs and all. The doll presents Mattel with an opportunity to join the movement past traditional beauty standards in society and represent girls of color in a more diversified manner. Mattel has made black Barbie dolls for as long as I can remember, but the features on this one are especially unique and represent a celebrity that many little girls already look up to and see on a regular basis, which is not often seen (Mattel released a Brandy doll with microbraids in 1999 and there have been other celebrity black dolls, but it’s not common).
Even a typical hatin’ response from Demi Lovato about representing “curvier” women as well could not dull the shine and excitement that the online world expressed once the breathtaking photos of the Zendaya doll were released. But *scratch record* Mattel does not plan on making the doll available to the masses.
While it’s amazing for Zendaya that Mattel created this doll especially for her (I mean, hello icon status), why wouldn’t they plan to mass produce the doll given the overwhelming response and even more the need for such a doll to be made? Mattel is no stranger to creating dolls that are more intricate than the typical Barbie model, including dolls from The Hunger Games and Divergent Series, as well as Mad Men. Similar to the Zendaya doll, they even created a doll modeled after Fan Bingbing and her red carpet look from the Cannes Film Festival.
There are several questions that come to mind when I think of why Mattel isn’t going to make the Zendaya doll. Is it too difficult or expensive to recreate the locs? Are there clearances required with Disney or someone else that Mattel cannot obtain? Would it be too difficult to mass produce the intricate facial detailing on the doll, baby hairs included? Shoot, could we even get a version of the doll that isn’t as intricate for the masses?
Also, I can’t help but scrutinize the media’s coverage surrounding the release of the doll. Although Mattel’s original press release blatantly stated that the doll is “one-of-a-kind,” several of the articles I read used misleading headlines, such as Time’s “Barbie is Making a Zendaya Doll,” which lead many to believe that they too will soon be able to own their own mini-Zendaya. I know that I was ready to add an alert to my phone with the release date so I could be at Target when it opened. Dream deferred.
All that being said, Mattel, what can we do to make this doll happen?
What are your thoughts on the Zendaya doll not being sold to the masses?