I was speaking last week with a fellow homeschooling mom about a recent plight with my daughter and her self image. She had recently taken a liking to watching girls play with their dolls on Youtube Kids. The play in and of itself was fine, but the subjects was distressing, being that the majority of the girls and dolls were white. I had began to notice my daughter make subtle comments about how she wish she had different hair, or how she wished she was like those girls. Often she would check herself if she found me listening, and self-correct her comments to a more pro-black mantra.
But this was a problem. Because she was simply trying to please me and didn’t truly believe that her black was beautiful. It didn’t start with the Youtube videos. Friends and neighbors would give her white dolls, and would offer her white Barbie doll movies to watch. I hated it, but relented because I knew I couldn’t change what people watch in their own household. I just figured that I could do the teaching at home to set a strong foundation.
Boy was I wrong. The damage had been done, and she firmly believed that the slender blond-haired, blue eyed doll was the superior one, and that she would never be as pretty. Enter crisis control. My friend told me that I would need to delete those videos cold turkey. No more Barbies. Censor everything, and infiltrate her with all black images, all of the time, to let it sink in. I thought it was drastic, but I did it. Because what I realized was that, even if she were to find a black barbie doll on TV, it would only come after hours of watching, and even so, that black Barbie would likely be a background role. The videos that are frequently and consistently presented are the white ones, and so naturally, any other doll wouldn’t seem as glamorous.
Sadly, with Mattel’s new release of their multicultural line of Barbies, the damage is too far gone to positively impact the role of Barbie on non-white children. Had blond Barbie been introduced with the slew of other Barbies at the same time, maybe things would have been different. But we all know what was considered desirable in America in the 1950s, and it wasn’t anything melanated – at least for the children of the time. So why, after 66 years of dragging their feet, would Mattel think they are doing something special? They’re about 24,000 days late and several million dollars short.
All is not lost. Do yourself a favor and check out this amazing list of Black dolls for your little Queen. You’ll be building her self esteem and supporting Black business.