Years ago, Debbie of Black Doll Collecting asked for a 1970s fashion inspired black paper doll with a huge afro. It’s one of those ideas that has been percolating for a long long time.
But I super respect Debbie as the authority on black dolls that she is. She has opened my eyes to examples of early black dolls that are super rare like Cynthia from the 1950s and these early Effanbee dolls.
So, I decided that my ignorance was no excuse to not give it a go. I did some research on 1970s black culture and set to work on creating today’s paper doll.
The 1970s were an interesting era for black culture. The Black is Beautiful movement was in full force bringing with it respect for traditional hairstyles like the afro and dutch wax print fabrics. There were even Black is Beautiful paper dolls produced in 1969, another thing I learned from Debbie’s blog. Black owned toy companies, like Shindana, were bringing out black dolls for children. Meanwhile, blaxploitation films began flourishing in Hollywood when Shaft came out in 1971.
Now, that we’ve all learned about the 1970s, let’s talk today’s paper doll.
Her hair is the first afro I have drawn that I am actually pretty proud of. It’s a little big perhaps for the 1970s, but maybe not? There is that famous scene in Foxy Brown where Pam Grier pulls a gun from her afro.
Normally, I steer clear of brown shoes on brown skin, but I actually really liked how the shoes colors (from Peacock’s book) coordinated with the paper doll’s ebony skin-tone.
In my research, I watched Chris Rock’s documentary, Good Hair, which wasn’t very helpful about historical black fashion, but it was a fascinating window into a world I know nearly nothing about. It also made me feel super cheap for complaining at how much my hair cuts cost. If you haven’t seen it and you’re interested in fashion or culture, I strongly recommend it.
Meanwhile, I’d love to hear what you think of today’s paper doll in a comment. I love to hear from y’all.