The Barbie doll line from Mattel expanded its representation of women of color even further with the Monday announcement that Black ballerina superstar Misty Copeland now has her own doll. Copeland’s doll is the latest in a growing number of Black Barbies, though there is some contention over which really is Barbie’s first Black doll.
In 1966, the “Francine” doll made its debut and the following year the “Colored Francie” doll was launched. The doll was billed as “MODern cousin” of Barbie’s and dressed in the U.K.’s “Mod” style. But the Colored Francie doll still had European features and thus Mattel doesn’t give her the first Black doll distinction.
That title belongs to “Christie,” a Black friend of Barbie’s that was released in 1968 and discontinued in 2015 before she was reintroduced again. Other Black Barbies include Nikki, Carla, a European-only release, and Janet, among several other special dolls the company made over the years. MC Hammer, Brandy Norwood, and Diana Ross also had figures made after them.
In 2009, the official “Black Barbie” made its debut, complete with a hairdo and clothing style to reflect the ’80’s era. Director Ava DuVernay’s Barbie debuted at the end of 2015 and was a wildly popular figure among fans young and old.