For years and years the beauty standard of fair skin and straight hair has prevailed, the dominant media strived throughout years to project unrealistic body ideals, skin colour, and so forth and they did this with every media outlet and surprisingly even with dolls but not anymore.
Gone are those days where spotting representative dolls of young black girls in stores was slim to none, days where dark-skinned girls would play with dolls they couldn’t see themselves in, dolls that were foreign to them and different from who they are.
For the longest time, the African market has been crammed with (white or European dolls), these are the dolls that black parents would pick and buy for their kids because that’s what they could get for their children, these are dolls that shaped young black girls view of their dark complexion, hair type and made them feel like they were unattractive and undesirable because they were nothing like the dolls they played with.
Over the years the representation of African people especially when it comes to dolls has changed immensely and for the better, more diversity has been and continues to be introduced, With different ranges of black dolls to choose from children now get to play with dolls with the same features as them, paving a way for a world of self-love and self-acceptance. Amongst ranges reflecting the diversity of South Africa’s rich heritage is Mmule Ramothibe’s Nandikwa Dolls.
The brand has 8 character dolls in its collection with each doll representing African cultures, the dolls are dressed in African inspirational clothing, with colourful and bright colours, encouraging children of all races to explore and embrace their cultures as well as others.
The dolls have authentic features relevant to the culture they represent, their hair is textured, coarse, braided, and varied. The doll collection encourages young black children to take pride in their cultural heritage, it teaches them from their youngest age that there is beauty in being diverse.
The collection’s purpose is to encourage young children to grow up being affirmed that they are beautiful in their uniqueness. According to Mmule, Nandikwa dolls are used for telling our African stories of triumph, dignity, ambition, tenacity, strength, resilience, self-love, leadership, culture, and most significantly through education, applied knowledge, and wisdom.
By interacting with the Nandikwa dolls children get to learn about different cultures and embrace those cultures, Mmule Ramothibe says her hopes are to get the Nandikwa dolls across the African Continent.