I used to love to play with Barbies when I was little. I liked to dress them up and make houses for them out of shoe boxes (I once made an entire apartment complex for my beanie babies–that’s what a Waldorf school will do to you!). Most of the time the stories I had them act out had to do with falling in love with one of my boy dolls (one was a doll of Dimitri, from Anastasia, the other one was Kocoum from Pocahontas). They usually had sex (which I had learned about from my parents as something between two people who “love each other very much” and consisted of some sort of tickling match) and Barbie got pregnant, to give birth to my Kelly doll. You can see that my fascination for reproductive health manifested itself at a young age.
But when I was little, I only had a few Barbies of color. Two of them were the aforementioned Pocahontas and Kocoum. Other than that, none, unless you count my African-American Water Baby.
But apparently, these days Barbies have all these newfangled stereotypes to perpetuate. Firstly, Barbie has a series of “Play All Day” doll sets. Guess what Barbie gets to do all day? That’s right: sit in the kitchen or the nursery, or teach little children.
Let’s take a quick look at how Barbie portrays women of color, shall we? Besides literal color, what do you notice that is different in shape, size, etc. between these Barbies? Nothing you say? Me neither!
The Barbie Corporation also has another collection called Barbies of the World. I feel like most of these images speak for themselves, so I will only say this: by boxing people of color into these hyper-exoticized, idealistic representations of their respective cultures is NOT being culturally accepting. By placing people of color into these “traditional outfits” yet under-representing them among the American Barbies, you make them even more the “other.” Nor is it, in my opinion, the most affective way to promote diversity and fight white standards of beauty. Just sayin.
I could go on and on…. for more, click here