Black Barbie (2024) Movie Review — An explorative documentary that sheds light on the importance of inclusivity

An explorative documentary that sheds light on the importance of inclusivity

Barbie has been everywhere since the release of the 2023 film and much before it even. The Margot Robbie starrer film tried to discuss the importance of straying away from the narrative that Barbies (women) are “blonde bimbo” girls who love to live in a “fantasy world”. This point came across quite well through Barbie and the film started a much-needed discussion on topics like feminism.

Another important discussion that was also brought to light because of the film was the concept of inclusivity. The film tried to include cast members as Barbies from as many races as possible. However, one thing that stood out despite this was that the Black Barbies were always on the sidelines and side characters.

The 2023 documentary Black Barbie, tries to highlight that token inclusivity is not the same as representation.

The documentary is directed by Lagueria Davis who interviews her grandmother – Beulah Mae Mitchell who is an avid Barbie collector and used to work at Mattel (the company that produces the Barbie doll).

Davis uses Mitchell’s love for the Barbie doll to highlight that despite being included and sold since the 1980s, the black-skinned Barbie dolls had little to no significance because these dolls were never seen as main characters. The documentary starts by elucidating how the Clark’s Doll Test from the 1940s highlights how the existence of a fair-skinned doll was promoted. 

The documentary is interesting to watch and presents a perspective that talks about the importance of representation for people of colour right from their growing up years. We see testimonies of doll collectors and people who played with Barbie talk about just how important it was for them to see a toy in their likeness during their years growing up.

The documentary also tries to experiment with the kids of the present generation and see how they perceive toys with darker skin colour. As compared to Clark’s doll test from the 1940s, the kids of the present generation look at the other distinctive characteristics of the dolls like how sparkly their outfits or if they are holding props like a guitar among others are instead of focusing on the colour of the doll’s skin.

Black Barbie is a documentary that makes for a very thought-provoking watch. It makes you think about the importance of representation in all walks of life for people of colour to feel empowered.

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  • Point - 7.5/10

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