She's one of many African American women who are ditching the straightening chemical known commonly as a relaxer. Felicia says it's not about style, it's about self love, "I see it more as a lifestyle and our rights to our heritage," explained Bennett, "because our ancestors that's exactly what they did."
Felicia is using her 'Hairitage Dolls' to send that message to young African American girls, "growing up as a little girl all the Barbies had straight hair," Bennett recalled, "but now in our culture we need to start with the young women to let them realize that the beauty is not necessarily in the length or the texture it's the natural state."
Toymakers have been reaching out to African American girls for decades, "doll makers started realizing that girls were playing with Caucasian dolls and what does that do to your self image if you don't have a doll that looks like you," explained Christopher Bensch, the Vice President of Collections at The Strong.
Bensch says many toy makers struggled with getting the design right for African American dolls. One of the biggest companies, Mattel, finally found success in 1979 when it introduced the first Black Barbie. Bensch says she was the real deal, "she wasn't just a White Barbie tinted brown, she has her own natural hairstyle, much closer to what people in the real world might find at that time and she was a great step forward in authenticity."
More dolls with a wider range of natural hairstyles are starting to sit on store shelves. Felicia says that's sending a positive message, "it's how it grows out of our hair naturally so whether they have big afros, textured hair, afro puffs, or twist outs they need to realize this is how they look and it's okay."