My favorite toy as a little girl was a Barbie. When I tell you, I had every kind on my Christmas list each year, believe me. The Barbie dreamboat, the Barbie convertible house, the pink Barbie corvette… My young world revolved around a white women with unattainable measurements. Then one day my mother got tired of me chopping up her socks to make dresses for her 39″ bust, and introduced me to a new doll. The Kenya doll. Taken aback by her ethniticy and less than developed shape, I realized she was brown like me. And resembled something close to an image I resonated with (minus the light brown eyes and medium-to-blonde hair).
Kenya was originally launched in 1992. She sold over 4.8 million dolls, 2.1 million fashion and accessories in 48 months while licensing over 75 items in the market with sales over 62 million approaching the Fall of 1996. The 2012 re-launch of the product features several new unique lifestyle components, which includes an entertainment component as well as additional characters, fashion items, merchandise and 63 items more than the original brand.
Now she’s back, to have that effect on the next generation of young girls. Singer, actress–Shanica Knowles–has been given the honor of taking on the Kenya Doll image. Best known for playing Amber Addison on Hannah Montana, and for playing Shauna Keaton in Jump In! We caught up with the 21-year-old, who dished on what she brings to the role, how Kenya and Barbie differ and the positive affects Kenya will have on a young black girl’s self-esteem.!