The Dolls That Millennials Loved Are Still Meaningful for Little Black Girls Everywhere

There’s a subtle joy and pride that sprouts in a young Black girl’s spirit the first time she sees herself reflected in a doll on the shelf. It’s bigger than child-like desire; it’s the reassurance of representation that, in turn, ignites a sense of belonging in impressionable children. For Millennial Black girls that initial experience was limited to very few dolls that offered a variety of representation. For example, the “Christie” Barbie doll began the expansion of this area of imagination.

When American Girl debuted Addy Walker in the fall of 1993, the celebration of her arrival was monumental. Collectively, we understood that her presence would garner expansion in representation and an opportunity for widening how Black women are included. 

Addy’s arrival marked the beginning of a new era for the American doll brand, which extended its impactful reach to create the iconic historical character. To celebrate 38 years of the American Girl brand, Addy Walker, Kirsten, and Josefina are being reissued. Not only will Addy be re-released, but her original birthday dresses and accompanying happy birthday books with the original cover designs will also be available.

“Since her debut more than 30 years ago, American Girl Addy Walker has had a profound impact on a generation of girls and women through her courageous narrative of bravery, love, and human triumph that emphasizes the importance of family and freedom,” shared American Girl’s General Manager/Senior Vice President Jamie Cygielman with EBONY.

“The new tribute collection features Addy’s original fashions and accessories, which debuted in 1993, along with the first paperback book in the series—which will educate and inspire American Girl fans of all ages for years to come.  American Girl was built on diverse and inclusive storytelling, and Addy is one of several characters that shines a light on the African American experience, with additional stories focused on the Harlem Renaissance and Civil Rights era as well as others set in modern times.”

What this reissuing represents in the present is a chance to relish in nostalgia and commemorate the past that we have experienced. It allows us to take greater pride in the variety we’re afforded today and the dolls that paved the way for all that we currently have.

A few of those dolls significant to Millennials and Gen-Zers’ childhood include:

Christie Doll (Mattel)

Mattel released the Christie doll in 1968 as the Barbie brand’s first African American doll. She was also included in the brand’s talking doll series.

Kenya Doll (Tyco)

Released in 1992, the Kenya doll is a variety of African American girl dolls in three different shades of brown. It is significant because it was the first to be featured on primetime television.

Sasha Bratz Doll (MGA Entertainment)

Bratz hit the market in 2001, offering a sassy, new-millennium take on the traditional doll. Sasha, one of the four initially released, was an instant favorite for little brown girls.

Updated: June 23, 2024 — 9:02 am