Singer Lira Makes History as the First African Barbie Doll

Singer Lira has been immortalised in plastic: she recently became the first African woman to have a Barbie doll modelled in her likeness.

The unique creation is part of Barbie’s Shero campaign, which kicked off in 2015. Since then, toy brand Mattel has created 50 lookalike dolls honouring diverse women they regard as inspirational role models for children.

They include the likes of plus-size model Ashley Graham, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa) research mathematician Katherine Johnson and When They See Us director Ava DuVernay.

Not all of the Shero dolls Mattel has created have been well received, however. The Frida Kahlo Barbie they released last year was lambasted on social media for failing to properly replicate the iconic Mexican painter’s heavy unibrow, or the traditional Tehuana-style dresses she wore.

Lira admits that when she was first approached by Mattel, she was a bit worried about how they’d replicate her natural hair. “Truly my concern was always my hair. You think to yourself, you’ve got short hair … Barbies have long flowing hair, and so how’s that going to work?,” she said in a Jacaranda FM interview.

But the celeb needn’t have stressed because Mattel’s designers nailed it. Lira told Jacaranda FM that she was “taken aback” the first time she saw the doll and that its hair is her favorite thing about it.

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – AUGUST 06: Lira during the Barbie honours Lira in Shero #MoreRoleModels campaign at The Munro Hotel, Houghton Estate on August 06, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Ahead of South Africa?s official Women?s Day celebrations, Barbie honoured songstress Lira as the first role model on the African continent joining the global line up of amazing women inspiring girls everywhere. (Photo by Gallo Images/Oupa Bopape)


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