Say Hello to the Newest Kinky-Haired Doll for Kids

Jihan Forbes
Associate Editor
Yahoo Beauty
The doll, created by WEtv's Mushiya. (Photo: My Natural Doll)
The doll, created by WEtv’s Mushiya. (Photo: My Natural Doll)

A new doll boasting brown skin and a curly, coiled coif is on a mission: to help children with kinky hair realize their inherent beauty. The pint-sized girl, called My Natural Doll, is the brainchild of Congolese hairstylist Mushiya Tshikuka, the host of WEtv reality show Cutting It In the ATL.

The doll, currently available on Mushiya’s Runway Curls website for $165, is named Keleshe and is extra cute in a colorful, African-print dress, which Mushiya co-designed. The hair on the doll comes from Mushiya’s Runway Curls Classic Collection, and is 100% virgin African textured kinky curly hair.

“In a world where the dolls we play with and the role models we see shapes our perception of beauty and our self confidence, it is important that our little girls are constantly exposed to a reflection of themselves — beautiful dark skin and kinky hair like that which grows out of their own head,” the description for the doll reads.

Think of it as the latest reaction to the classic “doll test,” which in 1940s psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark found that segregation and the negative messages being perpetuated about black people were having an effect on the self-esteem of black children.

Mushiya, center, pictured with her daughters Kasai Tshikuka-Smith (L), Keleshe Tshikuka-Smith (R) and their dolls. (Photo: Drexina Nelson Photography)
Mushiya, center, pictured with her daughters Kasai Tshikuka-Smith (L), Keleshe Tshikuka-Smith (R) and their dolls. (Photo: Drexina Nelson Photography)

“Dr. Clark administered a test, which he had devised years earlier, to 16 of those black children, who were ages 6 to 9. He showed them a black doll and a white doll and asked them what they thought of each,” Clark’s 2005 obituary in the New York Times reads. “Eleven of them said that the black doll looked ‘bad,’ and nine of them thought that the white doll looked ‘nice.’ Seven of the 16 told Dr. Clark that they actually saw themselves as being closest to the white doll in appearance when asked, ‘Now show me the doll that’s most like you.'”

“These children saw themselves as inferior, and they accepted the inferiority as part of reality,” Dr. Clark explained. The doll test was part of the testimony in the historic Brown v. Board of Education supreme court decision in the ’50s, which determined that segregation in public schools was unconstitutional.

It’s important for children to have positive representations which mirror them in their lives, and dolls like Keleshe are adding to the options when it comes to the toys they play with. Another one was launched last year, by Angelica Sweeting, who made headlines with a Kickstarter to help her create a “Naturally Perfect” doll, with a skin and hair texture similar to that of her two young daughters. “We want to make [this type of doll] more mainstream,” she told the Today show, “and ensure young black girls have a positive reflection of them in store shelves or online.”

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