In May 1997, Mattel introduced , a doll in a pink . Kjersti Johnson, a 17-year-old high school student in with , pointed out that the doll would not fit into the of Barbie's $100 Dream House. Mattel announced that it would redesign the house in the future to accommodate the doll.
In 1997, Mattel teamed up with to launch a cross-promotion of Barbie with . was marketed as someone with whom young girls could play after class and share "America's favorite cookie." As had become the custom, Mattel manufactured both a and a version. Critics argued that in the African American community, is a derogatory term meaning that the person is "black on the outside and white on the inside," like the chocolate sandwich cookie itself. The doll was unsuccessful and Mattel recalled the unsold stock, making it sought after by collectors.
In March 2000, stories appeared in the media claiming that the hard used in vintage Barbie dolls could leak toxic chemicals, causing danger to children playing with them. The claim was described as an overreaction by Joseph Prohaska, a professor at the . A modern Barbie doll has a body made from plastic, while the head is made from soft .
"Colored " made her debut in 1967, and she is sometimes described as the first African American Barbie doll. However, she was produced using the existing head molds for the white Francie doll and lacked African characteristics other than a dark skin. The first African American doll in the Barbie range is usually regarded as Christie, who made her debut in 1968. Black Barbie was launched in 1980 but still had Caucasian features. In September 2009, Mattel introduced the range, which was intended to create a more realistic depiction of black people than previous dolls.