More and more brands like Naturally Perfect Dolls and Natural Girls United are filling a void by offering dolls with more Afrocentric features, allowing little Black girls the ability to play with dolls that actually look like them.
Now we can add Malaville dolls to the growing list. Created by international model Mala Bryan, the dolls come in different shades of brown with a variety of hair curls, coils and textures. They also wear some fun African- and Caribbean-inspired outfits.
Bryan used to decorate dolls for kids in her hometown in St. Lucia. She said she was bothered, though, when the only dolls she could find were white. So several years later, in 2015, she took matters into her own hands.
“I made the decision to go ahead with the dolls because I could not find affordable kinky or curly haired black/brown dolls to add to my Barbie collection,” Bryan told The Huffington Post via email. “There are lots of adult doll collectors that would reroot black Barbie dolls with more natural hair but they are usually quite expensive… I notice[d] that there was a high demand for them so that was one of the main things I noted.”
She launched her first collection of four uniquely designed dolls named Maisha, Mala B, Malina and Mhina. She said it took her about seven months to design them all. Bryan has also created a world for the dolls to live in. When they aren’t thriving in their imaginary careers, they’re on world adventures with Bryan, as seen on her Instagram.
“I believe that diverse representation is extremely important because children tend to associate their dolls with their playmate,” Bryan told HuffPost. She explained that children need to have dolls they can relate to, so ensuring the dolls have curly and kinky hair and different complexions was a priority when creating the line.
Bryan plans to expand her Malaville to include more dolls with different facial features, skin tones and hair colors. She’s also collaborating with some African and Caribbean fashion designers to create a Malaville clothing line.
Overall, Bryan is pleased with how inclusive her dolls are for little black girls.
“My dolls mean the world to me,” she said. “Somehow they bring out a certain type of joy in me and that one of the things I’m hoping that they’re able give lots of happiness and joy to those to get them.”
In Scandinavia, you are guaranteed three things each winter: long nights, crisp snowy days and the feast of St. Lucia. Every December 13, children in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark celebrate the gift of light, the coming of Christmas and the ancient Norse tradition of the Winter Solstice. St. Lucia’s traditions include a luciatåg—a candle procession symbolizing the gift of light—and eating saffron buns with raisins called lussekatter.
Foodies Ida Skivenes (@idafrosk) and Linda Lomelino (@linda_lomelino) look forward to the yearly celebration as a time for gathering together with loved ones and baking lussekatter. “For me, St. Lucia Day means Christmas is coming near. It’s a warm and cozy celebration, perfectly timed for the usually cold and dark winter,” says Skivenes. “As a child, I would take part in the candle processions, dressed in a white robe, holding a lit candle, and handing out freshly baked saffron buns while singing the Lucia song. As an adult, I simply enjoy eating the pastries and drinking hot chocolate or mulled wine (gløgg) with friends or family.”
Ina Johnsen (@matpaabordet), enjoys the luciatåg. “If you are lucky enough to have kids in kindergarten you’ll have adorable boys and girls dressed in angelic white nightgowns with silver wreaths around their heads to send off to school.” The children mirror the actions of St. Lucia, a third century martyr who is said to have secretly delivered food to persecuted Christians in the catacombs of Rome by bringing candlelight and lussekatter to friends and family.
Stories differ on where and when lussekatter, which translates to “cat eyes,” entered into the feast day tradition, but people of all ages eagerly look forward to eating the special S-shaped pastries spiced with saffron to intensify the flavor and color of ordinary yeast buns. “I always eat at least one lussekatt,” says Lomelino. “But preferably more!” Amid of the cold, dark winter, you’ll find those celebrating St. Lucia Day sharing scenes on Instagram of these special pastries and drinks in the warm company of friends and family.