Thanks to models like Winnie Harlow, girls with vitiligo continue to be inspired by seeing someone in the limelight who possesses beauty that looks similar to their own. Now, those same girls might have a doll to play with that looks like them.
On Tuesday, the Shade Room posted a photo of a doll with brown skin wearing a head full of box braids, smoky eye makeup, and a trendy summer outfit. The doll’s skin tone also mimicked noticeable vitiligo on her face, arms, and hands. The attached caption read, “#VitiligoBarbie.”
People immediately began leaving loads of comments on the post, which has more than 226,000 likes, and sharing the photo in awe of the doll. One person wrote, “This would be beautiful for a lil girl with the same skin condition.” Another excited fan noted, “It’s about time they show us vitiligo girls some love!!”
Many others repeatedly tagged model Harlow, as the doll appears to be inspired by her, and perhaps this would grab her attention. But the true question is, was it really?
Yahoo Beauty caught up with the artist, who goes by K Knadle and is responsible for creating the original doll. She confirmed that, in fact, Harlow was the muse behind the doll’s design, as she is one of the artist’s favorite models.
Knadle expressed how she noticed a lack of diversity when it comes to the doll community, and she wanted to change that. “I started sculpting her around the time of the Mike Brown incident. I feel that, as a white woman, I can be informed and inform other white people about the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement, and Coffee [the doll’s name] was my personal reaction to the movement. I feel like representation matters, and there was a serious lack of ethnic dolls in the BJD [ball-jointed doll] world.”
The ball-jointed doll took a little over two years to complete and was created using La Doll air dry clay to sculpt from scratch. Knadle named the doll Coffee Kayke (pronounced “cake”) simply because she loves coffee. “I am a coffee addict, and I thought the name Coffee Kayke was cute,” she says. “And I like that coffee can come in a variety of shades of brown.”
To Knadle’s surprise, the doll has grown in popularity, and many have shown admiration for it all over social media — including a Norway-based student named Martine, who enjoys sewing and making wigs for dolls. Martine shared with Yahoo Beauty that she noticed the doll months ago after following Knadle’s creations closely online. She initially missed the order period when Coffee was being sold but was able to obtain it once Knadle put her personal version of the doll up for sale at a later date.
Once Martine received the doll, she began experimenting with different looks on her. “I just wanted to try and make high-waisted jeans, honestly,” she tells Yahoo Beauty. “I don’t think this is her finished look. I’ll have to try out a few, and see what I like the best.”
As for the hair, she is still figuring out what works. She shared, “The hair look isn’t hers. It’s a wig I made for a different doll, which she temporarily borrowed. I’m still working on figuring out how I want her hair.”
As for Knadle, she has styled Coffee herself in a variety of creative looks, from purple wigs and pink boots to flower crowns and high ponytails. While this was Knadle’s first go-around with hand-sculpting a doll, she won’t be making any more at the moment. “Coffee dolls were produced, and she is now retired,” she shares. “She contains many flaws, which I have improved my skills on over the years. If there is enough interest, I will consider bringing her back to production with a new and improved body.”
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