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I Love Barbie's New Diverse Look

Photograph by Instagram

Growing up, I loved playing with Barbie dolls. I didn't think anything of her blue eyes and blond hair. All I saw was the glamor – her amazing wardrobe, fabulous home and devoted friends. But the Christmas I saw a "Hispanic" Barbie on the department store shelf, I knew that she was a doll just for me. Even though she looked nothing like me (or anyone in my family), there was something I identified with. At 7 years old, I took pride in that, without even understanding the significance of diversity.

Beyond food and music, my parents never talked about our Puerto Rican roots. There were no books in our home that honored our heritage. There weren't any Latinos on American TV to look up to. My Hispanic Barbie was the first thing that made me curious about my culture.

RELATED: 12 Children's Books To Honor Puerto Rican Culture

My Hispanic Barbie was the first thing that made me curious about my culture.

That's why I love that Barbie's latest set of dolls from the Barbie Fashionistas line will feature dolls with eight different skin tones, 23 hair colors, 22 hair styles, 14 facial features and 18 eye colors. Choosing a doll is a big decision for some little girls. And for decades, the options were limited. This latest set of dolls empowers girls to pick the doll they most identify with. It allows them to celebrate their unique traits. Little girls will no longer have to compromise when picking a doll because there's one on the shelf that looks like them.

Personally, Barbie has never impacted my self-esteem but I can understand how some parents believe she can promote negative body image. Though the increasing criticism has been linked to the decline in sales, girls will still be girls and they'll still want to play with dolls. And there's no denying that young girls want to see themselves within the dolls they play with.

RELATED: Nigerian Barbie Outsells Mattel Original

While the latest line of Barbie Fashionistas may have adjustable ankles so that Barbie can rock flats and heels, she still doesn't have realistic body proportions. So the iconic blond still has a way to go to appease her harshest critics. But now is not the time to criticize Mattel or Barbie in general. This latest line of Barbie dolls is a good thing because it sends the message that beauty goes well beyond blond hair, blue eyes and trademark tippy toes. And that's a damn good start.

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