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– 9:34 AM PDT, September 29, 2009

'Grace', 'Kara', 'Trichelle'

“Grace”, “Kara”, “Trichelle” (Courtesy Mattel Corp.)

EL SEGUNDO — Barbie is getting some new friends. Mattel announced Tuesday that it is launching a line of black dolls with more “authentic facial characteristics” than the company’s dolls have featured until now.

The dolls, which are part of the “So In Style” line have “fuller lips, a wider nose, more distinctive cheek bones and curlier hair,” according to the world’s biggest toymaker.

Mattel said its new “So In Style” line is intended to “celebrate the diversity of African-American Girls and encourage positive themes.”

“So In Style” was developed and inspired by Barbie designer of 12 years, Stacey McBride-Irby, an African-American mother of two who wanted to create a line of dolls more reflective of her daughter and community.”

The line features Grace, Kara and Trichelle, “three best friends who are all about fashion, fun and friendship. Each of the dolls features its own unique personality and style and reflects one of three varying skin tones,” it said.

Each of the three dolls has a little sister.

McBride-Irby said she was inspired to create black fashion dolls that her then-4-year-old daughter could relate two when she watched her play two years ago. She said she wants the new dolls “to not only be an authentic representation of my community and culture, but to also encourage girls to be inspired and dream big.”

The “So In Style” doll will cost $19.99 for a big and little sister set and $7.99 for the little sister alone. A hair-styling set that will allow girls to curl, straighten and style their dolls’ hair will sell for $24.99.

Copyright © 2009, KTLA-TV, Los Angeles

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