You Know You Wish You had These as a Kid

Monday, December 3, 2012

Have you ever watched any Doll Test videos on YouTube? You really should. Below is one video; "A Girl Like Me" that I have always found intriguing.


Earlier today, I accompanied my colleague to find a doll for her daughter. She had strict instructions from her 7 year old to buy her a new Barbie doll for Christmas; the original blonde blue-eyed Barbie, not the exotic type (you will find this term doesn't bode well with me). This has played on my mind all day, so much so I had to put this post up before I go to bed.

While we were window shopping I thought of three things; 1) Do White people buy Black Dolls? Do Hispanics or Asians buy Black Dolls? 2) How many Black people are actually buying Black Dolls? 3) Would her daughter be pleased if her mother bought her a Black Barbie doll instead?

Would you, as a child, have picked a Black/ Biracial/ Colored doll  over a White doll?

jantis-atlantis:

indietrove:

tabloachproductions

I absolutely LOVE this.
Where were you when I was growing up?


Mattel does sell Black Barbies... They have done so for a while and I would give them a gold star for that. However majority of their Black dolls have long silky wavy hair akin to their white counterparts. Barbie Francie is almost there though, she recently had a make-over and now has a fro look to her. Be that as it may, Black dolls are cheaper than White dolls. This displeases me.


A Girl Like Me - She kinda does look the part.

Dreadlocked Goddess - I'd buy this for myself!

Cornrows... None of my dolls ever had cornrows.

Imagine having grown up with this doll as a young girl
I'm sure all this has crossed your mind before, but if it hasn't, it is something to think about... The formation of self image begins at a very young age and whether we agree or not, something as small and simple as a Doll is teaching little girls how to view themselves.

Over to you guys. Goodnight dear hearts.

X
Filomena Mairosse said...

I remember in my whole life as a child I think I had about 3 "barbie" dolls (one of them was not from the barbie brand but still) The first one, a white one I never really played with. 2nd one Black one with hair all the way down to the floor... never really liked her too because she had blue eyes. 3rd one was and still is my fav doll of all time even tho she's in pieces now but I still keep her. I busted her hair up pretty badly from all the braiding because I never wanted her with straight hair, but i loved her because she had brown eyes, a darker skin tone and all her limbs could move hehehe. Plus I used to make clothes for her out of my old kengas/capulanas (african fabric). I was a "different" child and I guess I've grown into a "different" adult as well. I guess I've always preferred darker skin even in the present day =) Mena from Mozambique

NykkeyB said...

I'm white and when I was 4 I had a black step mother and siblings. I remember telling people that I was black like my step sister, and my mothers favorite story to tell is when I took the hair grease and put globs of it in my hair and combed it through. Imagine how funny it must of looked this towhead blog child with all that green grease in my hair. But I remember feeling so proud cause I did my hair like my sisters. When my mom thought I was old enough to have an American Girl doll at 10 I chose Addy. Inevitably my white mother asked are you sure. to which my response was yep, I like her hair better.

NykkeyB said...

I'm white and when I was 4 I had a black step mother and siblings. I remember telling people that I was black like my step sister, and my mothers favorite story to tell is when I took the hair grease and put globs of it in my hair and combed it through. Imagine how funny it must of looked this towhead blog child with all that green grease in my hair. But I remember feeling so proud cause I did my hair like my sisters. When my mom thought I was old enough to have an American Girl doll at 10 I chose Addy. Inevitably my white mother asked are you sure. to which my response was yep, I like her hair better.

Hair of Heritage said...

I think about this from time to time, being a mother of a girl. My daughter has a majority of white dolls, none of them purchased by me. I sometimes wonder how it will affect her self image, and try to surround her with images that she can mirror herself in. It's difficult in a society like Sweden though, where she's one out of two kids in her class with African heritage, most people she sees are blond. It's very hard to find black or any other ethnicity of doll than white here in Sweden.
Growing up I had one black Barbie. The only black doll I've ever owned. I loved her. I treated her so well, she was mostly dressed in the dress she came with, I never cut her hair or messed it up too much like I did with my other Barbies. She was very special to me. And looking back I know how I as a child longed for role models, ppl on TV, etc. that looked like me. I wonder how many generations it will take until kids stop associating brown skin with something negative.
Great post, thanks for sharing! I loooove the Barbie with the fro :)

Sue said...

I didn't see any black dolls growing up, I remember having one caucasian one with wavy blonde hair. However, these black/brown hued ones all look good! I especially like the cornrow queen, never seen a cornrowed doll before. If I had to pick, would get that for myself! The last one with the brass choker is just exquisite!

This topic has been discussed so many times, one would think things might change, not so. It's encouraging though that going natural has resulted in so many black women appreciating themselves and their worth. Black beauty has yet to be elevated to a higher level of appreciation or reverence by the media. I say the media because it influences so much of how we think today, whether we like it or not. And when there are depictions of black people, many times the negative depictions are more than the positive ones. (The damage done by colonialism and slavery on the black psyche is also yet to be undone). In short, no one wants to be associated with anything black. These are some of the reasons behind caucasians, asians or hispanics etc not buying black dolls for their kids. It's not seen as mainstream, more like for a particular niche. Those who do buy are few and usually comprise a minority that wants to teach their kids about diversity in the world.

For kids growing up in societies where they are a minority, it must be difficult. This explains the sentiments expressed in the "A Girl Like Me" video. They have ALL been exposed to the same messages (whether overt or subliminal).

As adults we have to do what we can to give positive reinforcement to the kids in our lives--both girls AND boys that they are fine as they are. Since most media is still heavily westernized, a little effort should also be made in incorporating diversity in the music, books, toys etc they consume. (Aside: Isn't it crazy that there aren't any widely popular homegrown cartoons for kids in Kenya yet there are animators, IT geeks, graphic artists etc in the country?) I could go on and on about this issue, there's alot to discuss....!

Finally please post source info for some of these dolls...Thank you :)

Zoe said...

Dad only ever bought me boy toys so I would have been happy to have ANY doll. But I love the dreadlocked one

Natural Toto said...

Lovely post..

I feel deeply about this topic too...

And i could say alot.. but I love how you have put it...

Kids are really impacted by what they grow up with... thats when they learn to define beauty, ugly, good or bad... so I hope many read and learn from this... Kudos.

Shiro said...

You are so right...no wonder when I was a little girl all I wanted was long and flowing hair that I believed was true beauty...hence the painful hours spent in salons with ruthless blowdry-wielding hairdressers. I love the egyptian doll with the neckpiece, and the last doll...if only I'd grown up with these...I'd have appreciated my self-image way more than I did then, and it's taken quite a while for me to accept my looks, my hair and my skin colour. Thanks for sharing this.

Mercy Mkhana said...

I also feel quite deeply about this topic. Those doll choice videos really are eyeopening and a bit upsetting. Out of the mouth of babes...the real state of the world emerges, sadly.

I have been blessed with friends who consider me an Aunty to their kids - my friends run the gamut from Mexican to White. For their kids, I have bought books with people who look like me on the cover for their kids for Christmas, and I usually stay away from purchasing dolls since I still have a problem with the 'white' features that many dolls of color still have. I think the manufacturers simply use the same mold then just paint it a dark hue and pop a light brown/dark brown color for the eyes. So I stick with books for bedtime that talk about the diversity in the world. If I have to buy a doll, for sure I would opt for one that looks like me, even for my White, Mixed Race or Asian nephews/nieces.

There is a wonderful book that I bought a few years ago for one of my nieces and it featured a kid going around discovering all the different colors and diversity of people in the world from Asians to Africans, straight hair to afros to locs. It was a fab book and I can't, for the life of me, recall the name of it now. My little 2-year old nephew who is half-Mexican got a Dora the Explorer book for his birthday - his Mom was super thankful since their neighborhood isn't diverse - she is literally the only person of color on their block. She also tells me that her son points out black folks on telly and says that that's his Aunty Mkhana; granted he also thinks his Mexican Mom looks like Tia and Tamara Mowry...

I do wonder about the questions you pose in the end. When I was growing up, the dream amongst all my friends was to have a white Barbie doll. I have no clue where that came from. l wanted a lorry or dump-trucks - maybe coz I was sandwiched between two boys. I am still glad that there are different options out there and that kids can pick or their parents can pick whatever they'd like for their kids. It would be awesome to walk into a kid's room and see an array of different dolls from loc'd to blonde beauties!

Great topic! Thanks!

Mbabazi said...

it is instinctive for a child especially one who is younger and has not been impressed with television to pick the doll with the closest likeness to them. so yeah def the black doll.

Haarlem Nocturne said...

Where do you but these dolls?

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