You guys remember Kenya dolls? Making you pretty makes me feel pretty too…Oh the days of innocence…
I was inspired to write this after 1) hearing the the new Vogue Italia Black edition features African American Barbie dolls as models and 2) reading of the new So In Style Barbie dolls, a collection that features all black dolls with more African American features and little sister dolls.
This all just got me thinking. Growing up, I had black and white Barbie dolls. I really wasn’t one of those little girls who tried to identify myself through my dolls. I was really too busy trying to become a Ninja Turtle or member of Sonic the Hedgehog’s entourage for all that. Plus, I hate dresses…and pink…and midriffs.
But anyway, I look at women and young girls today and I see the effects of growing up in a world where women are not validated in some cases if they are not tall, thin and highly manicured. I know several women my age and older who just can’t see themselves as women because they don’t think that they’re feminine-enough. In the same light, I see tons of little girls every day who feel as if it is more important to look good, be small and have ridiculously long hair just to be successful. Remember when Barbie used to do…stuff? Like be a teacher, or a lawyer, or an astronaut, or a nurse, or a vet, or a doctor, or a scuba diver. Now Barbie is a…what? A scantily clad unemployed kept woman? Oh yeah, something to aspire towards…I mean, she doesn’t even keep a boyfriend anymore. She just kinda lives and shops and takes care of kids and a horse. Nothing in Barbie’s world was really that logical. But now, it’s just downright asshattery and trifling.
Sorry for that rant…so going back to the new black Barbie dolls. Basically, we have a new line of dolls that feature differing shades of brown skin and features more in line with how black people really look. Awesome. These dolls will come with accessories that reflect positive interests, as well as “a little sister” doll. So cute, right? Only problem: these dolls are still ridiculously proportioned and have hair that is very “un-Black”. Long, flowing weaves and overly manicured afro-puffs? Is this really what Black people are?
I know that it’s a lot to ask, to have Barbie gain a few pounds. (Well, not really…she was pregnant before…but I digress.) To change what we as a society think is beautiful. But really, how messed up is it that our beauty standard is absolutely unattainable, especially for a whole culture of people who have never been able to be beautiful in the first place? (Refer to the constant lightening of Beyonce in cosmetic ads.)
I know that these are all incomplete ideas. I just want to start conversation on the idea of changing what is beautiful and looking at how small things like Barbie dolls can totally destroy the mindsets of whole communities.