There has been an explosion of Black dolls on the market, allowing Black girls (and girls at heart!) to see themselves reflected in miniature plastic molding. But dolls in natural hair territory had still been mostly lacking.
Naturalistas, from Purpose Toys, is an all-Black, natural hair fashion doll line sold in major retail stores, such as Walmart, Target and Amazon. “This is something we are incredibly proud of,” declares Purpose Toys founder, DeeDee Wright-Ward. “Our tagline for Naturalistas is ‘Be Proud of Your Crown.’”
Wright-Ward says the significance of the tagline is a direct nod to the African American affirmation that one’s hair is her “crown and glory,” and is an important, esteem-building affirmation for Black children, given the history of the stigmatization of curly and coily textures. As a present naturally-textured woman, who grew up under her phenomenal naturalista mom and now raising a proud natural son, it was important for her to show the respect, pride and dignity Black hair carries through the brand.
EBONY: What inspired you to create Naturalistas?
DeeDee Wright Ward: There’s an over-representation of straight hair, loose curls and jewel-toned hair across the Black doll category. As the vast majority of Black children identify more so with having coils, tight curls and textured hair, many doll lines currently in the marketplace inadvertently send a message that natural hair is not equally valued. We set out to change this with Naturalistas. Our dolls celebrate not only the beauty but the culture and nuance of Black hair. NATURALISTAS celebrates four different hair types, several natural hair colors and an array of cultural hairstyles.
What are the lovely dolls in the collection?
Naturalistas’ core characters—Dayna, Liya, Kelsey and Paige—represent and celebrate three wildly common hair textures found across the African American community and the Black diaspora, yet have been three distinctive textures lacking for dolls. Additionally, we are proud to be the first doll brand to create and distribute an entire line of dolls featuring 4C hair, one of the tightest, most common and least celebrated hair types across the mainstream doll market. Our adorable 4C doll line, the “Pixie Puff Collection,” is currently available exclusively at Walmart.
What other characteristics make these dolls uplifting and unique?
In addition to the authentic and nuanced representation of Black hair, facial features and skin tones, our dolls are aspirational. They boast educational backgrounds, careers and personal missions that uplift the normalization of natural hair, which we hope will inspire generations of children.
Do you have a favorite doll in the collection?
Peety, from the Pixie Puff Collection. She was designed in the likeness of and named after my late mom.
What do you hope these dolls teach girls?
Wow, that’s a heavy question. I remember being a little Black girl and how much equity was placed on the politics of hair. If I could share one thing with coily and curly kids, it would be a deep appreciation for the rarity of their hair and the daily strength it takes to simply exist with it. In the way diamonds are rare, so is Afro-textured hair. As a diamond is cherished for its preciousness, so shall it be for Afro-texture hair.