Saint Lucia-born international model Mala Bryan who launched a collection of fashionable black dolls in 2015, has been criticised by customers that the dolls are “too dark” and probably wouldn’t sell.
Bryan’s ‘Malaville’ line is comprised of four stunning dolls that come in several different shades of brown, each with her own backstory, including career and hobbies.
However, not everyone is a fan. One customer, C. Lincoln, commented on Bryan’s Maisha doll, which has the darkest complexion of the four, writing, “I think that one doll [Maisha doll] is a bit too dark. That’s like the Sudanese doll. I think it’s safe to say that’s the least bestselling. … Keep the other three and create accessories etc. Keep doing what you do, sistah.”
A replying commentator defended the doll, pointing to Sudanese model Alek Wek’s success. Bryan responded to the screengrab on Instagram with positivity July 19. She let buyers with similar skin tones know “your black is beautiful.”
And Bryan herself wrote that she first thought about ignoring the ignorant comment. “But I’m sharing just so that people realize that our super dark people must still be facing a huge problem,” she wrote. “This is just sad. Although I got a compliment at the end, the person had the nerve to talk about [Maisha] being the least selling when she actually my second best-selling.”
Several Instagram users voiced their disappointment that someone would think a doll wouldn’t sell simply because of its dark skin tone — the ‘too dark’ comment echoing the societal and cultural pressures that many girls and women with dark skin tones face to lighten their complexion.
Until recently, children’s dolls often didn’t reflect the diversity of the kids who played with them.
Bryan who hails from La Pointe, Mon Repos and lived in Vieux Fort said as a doll collector she found it difficult to find different black dolls with ethnic hair to add to her collection.
She said she realized she was not the only one having that issue but other adult collectors and parents wanting to add diversity to their children’s doll collection, which led her to launch her own collection of black dolls.
The model who now resides in South Africa said her dolls are unique because she designed them.