Aside from creating dolls with vitiligo, Kay Black also makes dolls with freckles, natural curly hair and other personalized touches
Gone are the days of homogenous dolls that all look the same — many of today’s toys reflect the diversity of the population with nearly every skin color, body type and physical feature represented. Now one artist is taking it a step further by creating dolls with the skin pigmentation condition vitiligo.
Although the condition was thrust into the spotlight by Winnie Harlow, a model with vitiligo who appeared on the 21st season of America’s Next Top Model and has since been featured in many fashion campaigns, artist Kay Black says her inspiration came from the people around her.
“I’m motivated by everyday people I see walking up and down the streets,” says Black, who sells the dolls through her brand Kay Customz. Black tells PEOPLE that she started making dolls and earrings as a hobby on top of working an “average job.”
And her fans can’t get enough. “People are literally in tears when they get their dolls,” she tells PEOPLE. “I want to create dolls everyone can relate to.”
The dolls have also caught the attention of celebrities like Tia Mowry and Mike Epps.
“WHEN MIKE EPPS SHARES UR WORK I THINK IT SAFE TO SAY THIS DOLL WENT VIRAL!!” Black wrote on Instagram.
In recent years, Harlow has become an activist for people with the skin condition, bringing vitiligo into the spotlight. A few months ago she celebrated her skin with a selfie wearing just a pair of underwear. The model wrote in the caption, “The real difference isn’t my skin. It’s the fact that I don’t find my beauty in the opinions of others. I’m beautiful because I know it. Celebrate Your unique beauty today (& everyday)!”
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Harlow has long spoken out about being bullied for her appearance as a child and hopes that through her career she can be a role model for others.
In the past, she’s written on her Instagram, “I loved myself. And with that, opportunities started to fall into my lap and I thank God for all of them. Try loving yourself.”