While Mattel is really trying hard to diversify its toy collection by offering dolls in a broader variety of body types, skin colors, professions and hobbies, some people still feel quite underrepresented – so they take the matter into their own hands.
Individual entrepreneurs penetrate the market by offering "melanated dolls" for people of color, ones that pay tribute to history's influential women or dolls that defy the over-the-top beauty standards pushed by Barbie and Bratz.
Joining this list is repaint artist Mark Jonathan (@mark_jonathan_repaints) who upcycles regular barbies to look like the fierce and fabulous contestants of RuPaul's Drag Race.
Mark creates these "Rupaints" together with his mom, who was always fascinated by drag queens and their style, but has become a true RuPaul aficionado after working on these dolls with her son.
Their joint goal is to re-create the look in as much detail as possible – using acrylic and watercolor paint combined with other materials, Jonathan and his mom can spend up to three days trying to pin down the hair, the makeup, the clothes and even the nail art of the chosen drag queen.
"There’s so much history behind the Barbie doll. Changing the visualization and what it actually looks like and the meaning behind the Barbie doll is kind of what drew me to it," Jonathan told BuzzFeed News.
The queens love his creations as well. Back in 2016, Naomi Smalls was struck with the luck of having one of the dolls modeled after her and posted on Instagram: "@mark_jonathan_repaints is a fucking mastermind! I'm so in love with this and so flattered!"
Check out more of Mark's work on his Instagram and be sure to peep the videos on his YouTube channel that show the making-of process of these dolls in high detail.