Give Me a Head with Hair

I recently hand one of those rare moments when I actually managed to come back to a project and finish it. Do you remember a month or so ago when I started my first re-root of an old Barbie doll? I ended up putting her and a lot of other projects on hold while I dealt with some of life’s other issues and picked up a second job. I also ended up putting her head on a Liv doll body so she would have superior articulation:

                                            GE      GE

She isn’t completely finished yet. I still need to cut and style that new hair. Right now, the hair is very uneven as the strands were different lengths and there is just so much of it that her head pulls to the back from the weight. She will very likely end up with bangs and shorter hair when I’m done with her. I’d also like to repaint her face some and give her green eyes. I’ve decided to name her Sinead – she’s Morrígan’s cousin from her mother’s side (If you didn’t catch Morrígan’s intro narrative, catch it here if you’re interested) I haven’t figured out her personality yet, but I really love the name.

I’ve also recently picked up a cousin for Mitsuko. (Morrígan and Mitsuko are my favorite dolls – most of my other dolls I have gotten with the idea that they would be friends, family members, love interests, etc. – at least for now). I was at a Toys R Us a few weeks ago and I picked up a cheerleader Barbie with articulated joints. I named her Zahara. She’s Mitsuko’s cousin from her dad’s side:

Mitsuko: I am so happy you decided to move in with me, Zahara! It must have been hard for Aunt Richelle and Uncle Terry to let you go... Morrígan: Hi, Mitsuko! Who's your new friend? Mitsuko: Konbanwa Morrígan! I'd like you to meet my cousin, Zahara. She just moved up here from Georgia. Zahara: As-Salaam-Alaikum! I've heard SO much about you! Morrígan: Wa-Alaikum-Salaam! Welcome to Illinois! I look forward to getting to know you.

Mitsuko: I am so happy you decided to move in with me, Zahara! It must have been hard for Aunt Richelle and Uncle Terry to let you go…
Morrígan: Hi, Mitsuko! Who’s your new friend?
Mitsuko: Konbanwa Morrígan! I’d like you to meet my cousin, Zahara. She just moved up here from Georgia.
Zahara: As-Salaam-Alaikum! I’ve heard SO much about you!
Morrígan: Wa-Alaikum-Salaam! Welcome to Illinois! I look forward to getting to know you.

                                           GE GE

Inspired by Kristl Smith Tyler’s work over on How to Play with Barbies (her posts are all quite amazing and often delve into sociocultural commentary that go beyond doll play alone – something I appreciate in particular coming from an Anthropology background) I decided to give Zahara a boil perm. I wanted to give her more natural looking hair – black dolls very seldom come with anything but straight hair. It’s only been within the last 10 years perhaps (I don’t know exactly when) that black dolls actually got their own face molds to more accurately reflect common facial features – I remember as a kid all the black dolls were just white dolls made with brown plastic. (Some links for more related reading at the bottom, because as a white woman, I don’t feel I have a platform to really comment on these issues – though I will say that I find any manner of scrutiny and pressure from society to look any certain way is complete bullshit. Women get this from all angles, and women of color get further scrutiny and pressure placed upon them – and I want to recognize there is a struggle here that I am not privy to rather than gloss over it or pretend it doesn’t exist.) So, following Ms. Tyler’s instructions, I gave Zahara a more natural do.

                                             GE GE

Mitsuko: Sugoine! I love what you've done to your hair! So pretty! Zahara: Haha! Thanks.

Mitsuko: Sugoine! I love what you’ve done to your hair! So pretty!
Zahara: Haha! Thanks.

I’m pretty happy with the results and I feel confident now that I have successfully completed my first re-root and boil perm. I have a number of other projects lined up, and more pictures to share with you all, but I think I’m going to save those for another post – which will come sooner than later, I promise 😉

Further Reading:

1) http://jezebel.com/5387821/new-black-barbies-same-old-controversy
2) http://www.newstatesman.com/media/2014/01/politics-black-hair
3) http://www.academia.edu/4463226/Black_Hair_Politics_in_White_Academia_With_Reference_to_Black_Studies
4) http://thefeministwire.com/2013/04/untangling-the-knots-understanding-the-hair-politics-of-black-women-revisited/
5) http://www.forharriet.com/2015/02/why-it-isnt-just-hair-hair-for-so-many.html

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2 comments on “Give Me a Head with Hair

  1. Julia says:

    Wow, this is great! I had no clue what boil perm meant, so I looked it up and learned something new. The effect on Zahara is very nice. Your dialogue between the dolls is cute too.

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