When little girls are little, they want to look just like their moms. And so as a white mom of a black daughter, it is especially important for me to do everything I can to help Kira love her brown skin and her curly black hair, even if it is different from my long blonde hair. One of the ways that I can do this is by finding her black dolls to play with because when black children play with black dolls that reflect their beauty they develop a healthy and robust sense of self. But black dolls aren’t just for black kids – when white children play with black dolls they become familiar with racial and physical differences which is so important.

I love that there are more brown-skinned dolls on the market in South Africa these days – we recently discovered the gorgeous Buhle doll from the Sibahle Collection, designed by two local moms whose business model is to encourage black girls to embrace their natural beauty.

This is what mom bosses, Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu and Caroline Hlala, have to say about their dolls, “Sibahle is a Zulu word that means ‘We are beautiful’. The Sibahle Collection was born out of a need to encourage our black children to be comfortable in their own skin. Our first doll is called Nobuhle, Buhle for short which is a Zulu name meaning ‘the one that represents beauty.’ Her hair is the most distinguishing feature of this doll. The child gets to experiment with the hair, wash it, care for it as their own hair. We hope the doll’s hair will teach our children how to take care of their own natural hair from a young age. Up until recently, the European market attempted to fill the gap for black dolls with western dolls just painted black with hair nothing like the typical African kinky hair.”

“The dolls under this collection have features that resemble more African children’s facial and body features. The flat nose, the fuller lips, the kinky hair, the dark skin, the more pronounced cheeks etc. We want our children to know that they are beautiful the way they are.  The princess theme is meant to reassure our children that no matter what shade of black they are, in our eyes they are perfect African princesses!”

Kira just LOVES her new baby, Buhle. After she stopped sniffing the vanilla scent of the doll she said, ‘This baby looks like me, Mommy.’ I agree that it’s so important for little ones to see themselves represented in their dolls – not only does Buhle have perfect brown skin like Kira but she has a soft, curly babyfro like her too. Buhle has been part of our family for two weeks now and I can already notice the difference she’s made in the way that Kira feels about her hair. On wash day this past Saturday, Kira played with Buhle’s hair for almost the entire time that I was styling her hair and even requested ‘magic powerpuffs’ so that she could ‘look like Buhle.’ This is huge progress for us!

My daughter you are fearfully and wonderfully made and you deserve to grow up in a world where your beauty is celebrated and your brown skin is represented wherever you look. My girl, you are an African Princess just like Buhle.

You can purchase your own Buhle online here  (sign up for the newsletter and get a 10% discount) or at selected Kids Emporium stores.

*This post was not sponsored, but Kira was sent a Buhle doll by the lovely ladies from Sibahle Collection.

Photography by the fabulous Sachi Saville.