Thanks and respect to my BFF Lauren — my college partner in crime, friend for life, and self-described “Jewbella” always sends me great Afrobella articles and suggestions. And she totally knows about my affectionate obsession with Miss Zahara Marley Jolie Pitt. The beautiful little Ethiopian girl that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie adopted has more personality than both her parents put together, if you ask me. And she’s only three years old!

My amiga Laurencita sent me a link to this interview with Angelina Jolie with the Australian Herald Sun, wherein she discusses her new film The Changeling and the usual topics — life, love, and her ever expanding family. This reply caught my eye:

What about teaching your kids about religion and culture?

I want to teach them about all religions, and I’m trying to find a way to do that. And when it comes to the subject of adoption, like when my daughter, who’s African, wants her hair to look straight like mummy’s . . . and I look for a Barbie that’s African, and the African Barbie has straight hair! And you know, why has Disney never made a film with an African-American princess?

I’m gonna need Angelina to get caught up with Afrobella, mkay? I’ve been looking out for Baby Z and little bellas like her for a while now.

Also, someone might want to let Angelina know that Disney’s first African-American princess movie, The Princess and The Frog, will be released in November 2009. And her name has been changed from Maddy to Princess Tiana. So that’s something to look forward to for next year. And in the meantime in-between time, there’s absolutely no reason to get Baby Z a Barbie or Bratz doll that just reinforces the unbeweaveable standard of beauty for little bellas. There are some afrobella-positive dolls, toys, and accessories to be found. You just gotta look!

A first good port of call is the black dolls list, which mostly features fancy collectors type dolls of the sort that terrified me as a child. But there are some cute ones to be found there, like the
Cecile doll. $31.95, and she’s got awesome hair and style for days.

Wouldn’t you know it, someone’s got a doll named Zahara — but it’s of the lifelike and collectible type that just reminds me of that terrifying Twilight Zone episode with Telly Savalas. My name is Talking Tina! Nooo thanks.

Some African American dolls are beautiful, but not so fun to play with. Take the American Girl’s Addy Walker, a beautiful history lesson who comes complete with a book and accessories for $105. Addy is incredible, but if I was a little bella, I wouldn’t know what to do with her.

I was big into stuffed animal collecting and dolls I could hug and love and brush the hair of. And I’ve always loved Cabbage Patch Kids — their African American dolls are adorable. Like this 25th anniversary baby boy. I grew up in the era when Cabbage Patch Kids were new on the scene and a very big deal, so there’s a nostalgia value for me.

I think BlossomBabies just as cute as Cabbage Patch Kids — these cuddly German-made soft toys are made in Germany and are said to be ideal for kids with allergies. I think Lana is the cutest! She’s $64, and because she’s wearing a satin kimono, she’s described as “more of a cuddling, sleepy-time kind of girl.” That sounds like me! Awww. I might have to get Lana for a special little bella in my life.

If Baby Z is like my niece Dominique, she would love a baby doll like the Little Mommy Yellow Sleeper doll, or the Little Mommy Bedtime Baby, or the Middleton Little Bailey Doll. Too cute. Then there’s the dolls that give your little bella something to do, like the Baby Alive Learns to Potty, Wets N Wiggles, and Fisher Price Baby Gotta Go dolls.

Little bellas who are old enough not to put small objects in their mouths will love My First Dollhouse, an adorable little Fisher Price setup that comes with an African American family living happily inside it.

Older girls might like the Madame Alexander 18″ doll, but I distinctly remember a time in my youth when big dolls were NOT COOL anymore, and I rebelled against them. I wanted to play with little dolls, like the bigger girls did. So Angelina — if you’re reading — you can still get Baby Z the Barbie she craves when she’s of age for Barbies. She can get her Michelle Obama on with Barbie For President.

And if your little bella isn’t the sort who likes to play with dolls, you can reinforce a positive self image with the Whimsical Whitney tee over at Mosaic Mix — Whitney is adorable and described as “fun, bright, and absolutely sure of herself,” just as any little afrobella should be. And I’m bummed this super cute Sephora Girls travel pouch isn’t available anymore — I want one for me!

Have you seen any afrobella-positive gifts for little bellas? What do you plan on getting your little ones for their holiday gifts?

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T.T. says:
November 23, 2008, 11:50 pm
OMG!!! I need that little Sephora Girls pouch!!!! That is tooooo cute!!!
TJ says:
November 24, 2008, 12:33 am
Well, actually, I got my daughter this vintage Nigerian Barbie and she has a fierce and flowing afro. The Serengeti barbie and the Byron Lars dolls have curly textured hair, too. Curly haired barbies are out there. I really like the Blossom Babies too.
Martamique Ngozi says:
November 24, 2008, 2:06 am
omg that shirt was just the cutest I wish that i could have had a shirt like that growing up. I will say that even though there weren't to many options of dolls(mind you im only 19) my mother always bought me the black versions of dolls if and when i have a daughter i will try and get her toys that reflect herself. again great post Afrobella -PeAcE
Bsquared86 says:
November 24, 2008, 4:23 am
When I was little my dad searched high and low for a black cabbage patch doll. I still have it now! Whatever happened to the Kenya Doll?
Nikki J says:
November 24, 2008, 10:05 am
When my younger sister was a little girl (she's 20 now), she used to carry this doll around named Kenya. I'm not sure if they make her any more. This was around '91 or '92. Anyway she had thick kinky/curly hair and wore a cute African inspired outfit. My sister loved that doll. I still have my Cabbage Patch from when I was 9 years old. SHe was one of the first cornsilk hair dolls. She has dreads now. LOL.. Bsquared I just noticed your comment.
nikki says:
November 24, 2008, 10:26 am
I still have all 5 of my Cabbage Patch babies. That was the first black baby doll I owned, actually. :)
missy says:
November 24, 2008, 11:13 am
If you have not done so - - you have to check out Sugarfoots. They are located in DC and make the cutest little dolls for girls. Each one is unique - - you can customize the skin tone and can even get your little princess a dress to match. Plus - - even though the owner Barbara does not realize it - - she was one of my inspirations when I decided to go natural. Check out the website WWW.SUGARFOOTS.COM.
Melia says:
November 24, 2008, 11:14 am
I LOVED Cabbage Patch Kids. I have 14 and several collectible Black Barbies still in the boxes... the plan was for me to save them and give them to my daughter one day...well guss hubby and I have two sons. LOL!
Melia says:
November 24, 2008, 11:15 am
Ooops... that is supposed to be **guess**
Nubeauti says:
November 24, 2008, 12:00 pm
When I was growing up I played with Barbie dolls. I also had Cabbage Patch Kid, but I loved me some barbie. That's probably why I had a straight hair and skin complex for so long. LOL! I will not be purchasing any Barbie dolls for my daughter, not even the black ones. I just feel like Barbie sends out a message to little girls that they have to be perfect. What little girl needs to be playing with a doll with breasts and mini skirts to show off those long thin model-like legs? Oh and don't forget the boyfriend(Ken)to match if you purchase him. My mother never bought me a Ken doll to go with my Barbie. Thank God! Thanks for sharing this information, just in time for the holidays.
WARRIOR11209 says:
November 24, 2008, 12:26 pm
Cute onesie! I bought my daughter a Kenya doll when she was younger ( for a matter of fact she had 2 - I do not remember how she ever got 2 but she did) and she carried that doll everywhere! I think she still has it sitting as a decoration on her dresser now and she is 15.
SBarnacle says:
November 24, 2008, 12:50 pm
Love all the links to the babies. The shirt will be under our Christmas tree. My 5 year old is obsessed with her baby from Dolls Like Me. She has Matilda ( who is so life like people in the grocery store dive to catch her as the 5 year old mama carries her by the foot. She wears 3-6 mo baby clothes which means the kiddo can supplement baby's wardrobe with her own allowance at the thrift store. says:
November 24, 2008, 12:52 pm
I love my TY Beanie Kid named "Calypso!" She has a soft mane of thick, curly hair. Her friend "Cutie" is adorable with a short natural, and their brother "Rascal" does the same.
GordonGartrell'sMuse says:
November 24, 2008, 1:50 pm
I really wish that Mattel never stopped making the Shani, Asha, and Nichelle dolls; I liked them A LOT more than any of my regular Black Barbies because they came in different skintones..... they were more like the Black women that I saw everyday.
Starchild says:
November 24, 2008, 1:59 pm can I squeeze into that Whitney tee? LOL
NaturalGloLady says:
November 24, 2008, 2:21 pm
Bella, Her name is Makeda @ Ethidolls, I have been eyeing her for a couple years now and waitiing for the right time to invest in her. She is beautiful! There are testimonials for little girls at the site of many backgrounds that love her. I think little Z will too. Makeda was the Queen of Sheba and Saba, the doll was created by Salome Yilma, whom is Ethopian herself. Please check this beautiful doll out at her site:
NaturalGloLady says:
November 24, 2008, 3:05 pm
Makeda and Yaa Asantewaa both have Traditional African Hairstyles.
KindredSmile says:
November 24, 2008, 3:10 pm
Bella, this post is right on time! My daughter is 16 months now, and is really getting into dolls. Right now, she has a black Cabbage Patch and another black talking doll - I made it a point to buy those - but do you have any suggestions on where I can find dolls that look more like her (mixed)?
LBellatrix says:
November 24, 2008, 3:44 pm
Thank you SO MUCH for this post. In this economy, the only person in my family who's getting gifts this year is my soon-to-be-three-year-old niece...who knows nothing about bad times and doesn't need to know. And yeah...Angelina, you know you're my girl but as the mother of a little Afrobella you're going to need to get hip to Afrobella!
Maleficent says:
November 24, 2008, 4:11 pm
Those Ethidolls are GORGEOUS!! I'm 26..can I still play with those, or would that be pathetic? :P
Nina says:
November 24, 2008, 4:20 pm
You know, I wonder why Mattel stopped making their My Child dolls. They had little brown babies with curly hair, and the dolls were both cuddly and poseable. Can't think of others just yet, but I really hope she doesn't go the black Barbie route. There are too many choices now.
The Connoisseur says:
November 24, 2008, 4:28 pm
The funny thing that I learned about Disney this weekend in DC - they have a huge African Art exhibition from Walt Disney himself at The Smithsonian. The man was an avid collector of African Art (who knew?!) So it kind of peaks my curiosity that it took them SO long to make a movie, knowing that there is a large contingency waiting and wanting for such a thing to be made. However, I guess better late than never right? :) The items you found are so adorable!
NaturalGloLady says:
November 24, 2008, 4:31 pm
Maleficent,aren't they fabulous?!!I know the price is up there. But its well worth, look at the detail in the workmanship. Plus they were designed by African craftsman/weavers. Even if my daughter didn't play with it, its a great collectiors item and heirloom. I really like these dolls.
NaturalGloLady says:
November 24, 2008, 4:35 pm
Maleficent, aren't they fabulous?! Even if my daughter didn't play with them, they would make great collectors and heirloom items. Look at the detail in the workmanship of the African craftman/weavers. I'm so glad for someone like Salome Yilma to design these dolls.
NaturalGloLady says:
November 24, 2008, 4:57 pm
This Post is dedicated and goes out to you Bella-creator of this blog, my bella sisters out there, and the little wee soon to be bellas. Like Queen Makeda & Yaa Asantewaa you are all Queens. Peace and Blessings.
lilone says:
November 24, 2008, 6:15 pm
LOL! I learned to cornrow on my Kenya doll. And I tangled Addy's afro-like hair beyond repair. We just put the bonnet back on and left that one alone. She didn't respond well to detangler for real hair. I don't know if they make the Niya doll anymore. She was my favorite! She had a book and a cassette tape too. (And a cute lil yellow dress) Niya was cute, looked like us, and was actually cuddly and fun to carry around. Okay I'm gonna ease up off of my flashbacks now thankyouverymuch. Great post Bella!
Miss Smith says:
November 24, 2008, 10:51 pm
I had an Addy doll growing up. All I wanted to do was play with her hair. And of course read the books (nerd alert!) But I'm with lilone on that girl. I put a braid in it and a scrunchie on it and there she sat when I grew out of playing with dolls. Interestingly enough, I was at my mom's house for a couple weeks this summer and gave Addy up for adoption to a darling bella in my life. She had another American Girl doll of her own and was happy to take Addy off my hands. The American Girl business has boomed with the addition of stores (back in the day it was only catalog/mail-order). You can now go to the salon and get hair done, have tea, and proabbaly space travel with your girl. I think it's great that they offer a variety of dolls to reflect so many American girls, but I'm curious how many with Addy-like hair are being made.
Margaret Cooley says:
November 24, 2008, 11:09 pm
The key phrase is "you just have to look." We have to look high and low to find the dolls without weavilicious hair! At least now we have some choices. I have Addy and I will say her hair may be long but it isn't as combable as her fellow historically correct doll sisters. That would be the tribute to her Bella roots ;-) I know Angelina will find Z the best doll. But she's getting to learn first hand what we're faced with everyday - how do we help our girls and boys grow up to feel like they belong in a society that knows so little about them. When my bella was about 4 years old she asked me why the girls on the t-shirts she liked were always white and didn't look like her. I told her because the people in charge of making those shirts made the people look like them. Which is why she's going to go to school and do well so she can be in a position to make those decisions one day. We'll get there. Thanks for all you do. marg
b. says:
November 25, 2008, 3:42 pm
Kudos to marg for raising such a smart and self-aware Bella! I like her :D I didn't like Barbie, detested her in fact. She didn't look like me, exuded an entitlement mentality I hated even then, and waited around for Ken to do it all. I was more a Jem and the Holograms girl (she had flaws and worked for herself...although I hated how she treated Rio...) I remember crying over my first Cabbage Patch b/c she was black. I was so unaccustomed to seeing a brown doll (I was four) that I didn't know how to act. My mother, the trooper that she is, tried to explain but ended up exchanging her for a red-headed one. I regretted it after she left and ever since. The next black doll she gave me (years later) was a My First Barbie. She was just a tanned version of Barbie. And you now know how I feel about Barbies...(and by extension, Bratz) Phew! Thanks for all the fabulous links, and I hope that by the time I get around to buying dolls for my own little girl (Lord willing) I will have EVEN MORE to choose from. And I hope she doesn't freak out like I did when she receives a doll that's brown like her.
Ms. Johnson says:
November 25, 2008, 7:46 pm
I'm not an Angie hater but... I am Barbie collector I have tons, more Afro Dolls than her white counterpart...with that said Barbie actually has several dolls with kinky hair some short some long but very kinky. Barbie was the first main stream doll to go black, latino, asian, eskimo, astronaut, etc. She's been every women since her conception. I also subsequently work for the aforementioned studio she spoke of. What Angelina aka "I wish I was Josephine Baker" should be teaching that little angel is that she is so unbelievably gorgeous, she is the QUEEN not a princess, she is the mother of the earth, the creator of all things beautiful - and her perfect hair is only an extension of that! Which is what we as queens have taught our children and Godchildren and nieces. Its difficult to teach someone how to be proud and celebrate something YOU are not.
libby says:
November 25, 2008, 11:05 pm
Earlier this year, I came across Nikki from the Top Model Barbie collection. I bought her in an instant for my young cousin, who loves Barbies and Bratz dolls. Unlike most black Barbies, Nikki does NOT have straight hair. Her very curly hair is styled in a fierce 'fro. I was glad to see a Barbie with hair that is curly, just like our girls'. It is important for them to know that they are beautiful with their hair in its glorious natural state.
Vicky says:
November 26, 2008, 8:55 am
i do agree, i wish my mum had bought me dolls that look like me when i was younger. My lil sis is into the bratz dolls, but the supposed black doll sasha has been changed from dark brown to light, she barely looks black now. I think its disgusting that the bratz makers would change sasha, afterall yasmine was supposed to represent latin girls and she was light brown so why would they need to change sasha? Light brown girls already have a million examples of women who look like them who are used in ads, are singers etc whilst girls of a darke hue don't. I have now boycotted the bratz!
Nina says:
November 26, 2008, 11:23 am
All great choices! Growing up my mom worked really hard to get us dolls of color. I think I'm going to get my niece one like this on Etsy:
lilone says:
November 27, 2008, 2:26 am
Miss Smith: American girl has stores!? excusemewhat? lol... smh where have i been. Salons too? You think they might have a natural hair stylist for Addy? I had plans for Addy's hair ok... Plans. American Girl has had plenty of time to find a kinky substitute for the hair they used so I can [oops I mean "I could have"] gave her all the cute lil braids I wanted to. I know Yaky when I see it. LOL :) And they do have little black twin dolls in the baby collection now... Just saw them. They're cute. These ones appear to have curly hair. Ok, enough of my inner child. I hope "Brangelina" realizes this is only the beginning. Welcome to our world honey. Its dolls now, but as little Zahara grows up she will require more than just toys and hair products; she will need to be educated on her Ethiopian history, etc. I think the beautiful thing about the adoption is how it opens up the minds of Angie and Brad and (because everyone cares what celebrities think) also forces other people to pay attention to adoption, other cultures, the stereotyping African-Americans go through and the importance of accepting our beauty in the mainstream too.
lilone says:
November 27, 2008, 2:34 am
P.S. Here's Niya: I forgot she teaches you Swahili too. Sigh... She is so intelligent. I miss the old school yellow dress though. And she was a finalist on ABC'S American Inventor Show... Interesting =)
Vashte says:
November 30, 2008, 9:05 pm
I'm surprised to see that the Karito Kids doll wasn't mentioned:
tiffmo says:
December 1, 2008, 8:29 pm
Here's another super cute (I wish I had a little girl so I could get her one!) doll maker. Love mama dolls are adorable with fun ethnic hair that I bet any girl would love. You can buy them on etsy:
Isis says:
December 7, 2008, 3:50 am
Disney is coming out with an animated movie featuring the voice of Anika Noni Rose...
Becca says:
December 11, 2008, 2:52 pm
I love these dolls and so do my kids. I love Yahoo!
april says:
December 13, 2008, 2:14 am
do you have information on where to buy the t-shirt shown with the little girl in the corner nov 23 08 issue
sassilass says:
December 21, 2008, 6:09 pm
I have an adorable doll which might be of interest to you (not that I'm selling her, but you might find one). She's a Baby So Beautiful doll by Playmates (1995).
Cecily says:
January 2, 2009, 5:33 am
I came across this and thought it might be a good addition to the resources: Only Hearts Club. They have one girl with lighter skin and hair that might work for those looking for a more 'mixed-looking' doll, and Kayla who has darker skin and black (but long) hair. From the catalog, I think Kayla may be a recent addition.
Quenyatta says:
August 26, 2009, 11:17 pm
Love, love this site. Firt time here. Does anyone know where I can find a Black makeup and hairstyle doll (head)with natural/curly textured hair?
Jennifer says:
September 14, 2009, 10:05 pm
I, too, am looking for a great black makeup and hairstyle doll head for my 5 yr. old daughter. Any hints? The Barbie ones look so, well, white?!?
Rachael says:
December 9, 2010, 5:24 am
Hi I just came across this and was wondering where I could get that lovely t-shirt form as the link no longer works. My daughter would love thanks
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