‘Black Barbie’ documentary review

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Black Barbie will be playing at the San Francisco Documentary film festival from June 8, 6:30 p.m. The event will take place at Roxie Theater and online by demand

by Xion Abiodun

Black Barbie will be playing at the San Francisco Documentary film festival from June 8, 6:30 p.m. The event will take place at Roxie Theater and online by demand

I was born in 2004, so I’m a 2000s baby. Growing up in the 2000s there were two types of Black girls: The Black girls that played with Barbies and the Black girls that played with Bratz. It’s safe to say that I was and still am a Barbie Black girl. I even have a small white dog and multiple jobs like Barbie! When I saw the title of the movie “Black Barbie,” it caught my eye and I had just had to watch it. 

The film is phenomenally written. It explores the history of the creation of Black Barbie. “It’s just a toy,” you might say but it’s so much deeper than that. In the movie it shows when children see dolls that look like them their whole face lights up. That really touched me because growing up I did not necessarily see dolls that looked like me, so that really meant a lot to me. I was glad that the film creator made sure to highlight the fact that there is so much diversity in Barbies today because of Black women pushing for Black Barbie so hard. Of course there is still work that needs to be done by bigger companies regarding inclusivity today, but there has been major progress made so far.

In the film they showed children talking about how they felt about the doll, and why they felt that way. It really shows how seeing you in a doll messes with your mind. Today there is diversity everywhere from schools to dolls, so usually we overlook the history of what it took to overcome homogeneity. But did we really overcome homogeneity?

I loved the way that Black Barbie incorporated Black women and women of all ages. It was very refreshing to watch a film where the focus just was not on young people. The aunt of the film creator really likes dolls, which is what led to the creation of the movie. The aunt was older and I enjoyed how she was the main focus of the film. It’s not everyday that you see elders being the lead of a film, so that was a very fresh take. 

The lighting crew did a great job with capturing everyones skin tones beautifully. The film designer also did a phenomenal job with exuding the Barbie vibes through the screen. It was so many sets, with so many different interviews, and every set was very pretty. It actually looked like different parts of Barbie’s dream house. 

Watching the movie brought me back to my childhood. I felt a lot of nostalgia while watching the movie. But it also tapped into many other emotions like joy, disappointment, and sadness. “Black Barbie” really breaks down the history behind the creation of Black Barbie dolls. It is such a complex history, but often overlooked because it’s the history of a toy. 

Overall I really enjoyed Black Barbie. I feel like it is a movie that everyone who plays with Barbies should see, especially Black women and girls. I feel like Black Barbies are such a significant part of Black culture, but the history is not really talked about enough. I give it a 10/10, it is definitely a film I would watch again and recommend to others. 

Xion Abiodun is a student at Madison Park Academy and can be reached at Xion.abiodun@gmail.com. She is also a dancer and a student of the Community Journalism Program.