Pop Culture

Stop Expecting Barbie To Represent Real Women Of Any Culture

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I am very confused by the pearl-clutchers getting upset about the new Mexican Barbie that Mattel launched recently. Barbie’s body proportions are outlandishly unattainable and cartoonish so why would anyone expect her to flawlessly (and subtly) represent a whole culture? We need to stop expecting Barbie to represent real women of any culture. See below for the new Mexican Barbie:


via Twitter

I have never understood why anyone gets so worked up about Barbie. Sure, she represents completely unattainable ideals of feminine beauty and totally defies what would constitute normal anatomy for a human being but she is, after all, only a doll. I am a child of the 1980’s and 1990’s so I definitely owned a few and I can never remember holding her sleek, pointy-toed body and thinking that it was anything I ever had to aspire to.

According to a quote from The Daily Mail, we should be very offended by this “misrepresentation” of Mexican culture:

Felix Sanchez, chairman of the National Hispanic Foundation for the Arts, said of the toys: ‘These images seem very dated and seem to have been created for a different time.’

Indeed, most of the dolls are marketed on the Mattel website as sporting ‘traditional’ costumes and ‘classic’ looks.

Despite their latest Barbie being described as wearing ‘traditional costume’ it appears that the doll may not be entirely authentic.

On the Barbie Collector website under Doll Details the doll’s skin tone is listed as LA tan – not exactly a perfect likeness to an actual Mexican woman.

Since when is Barbie a perfect likeness to ANY actual woman? Does anyone know a woman with a 16-inch waist and feet that are permanently on-pointe? With painted on eye make-up, flawless skin and a mane of perfect hair? Has Barbie EVER been real or politically correct? Nope. And in my opinion, she should never have to be. She is a toy, not a teaching tool or an ambassador for women and girls the world over.

The brouhaha over Mexican Barbie is very confusing to me. There was a version launched in April that seemed a lot more offensive- the Barbie wearing a garish pink, off-the-shoulder “traditional” Mexican dress with a Chihuahua tucked under her arm. I can see a Mexican person rolling their eyes and making a hard pass on buying that for their child. The newest version, besides resembling Puss In Boots, is not offensive in my eyes.

I mean, if Mattel is making International Barbies, how else are they supposed to represent traditional Mexican culture? I did a little research and due to photo rights, I cannot post images I found but suffice to say, the Mexican contestants for Miss Universe competitions look about 300 times more stereotypical to me than this. I would love to hear what else anyone thinks Mexican Barbie should be wearing or how she should look. To me, this is very tasteful and representative of what we would think of for traditional Mexican culture. And to the usual Barbie haters who whine about her being scantily clad, this doll is totally covered up. I am really not sure what else anyone is expecting from a doll.

As I said before, I don’t think parents should be looking to Barbie as a role model for their daughters anymore than other toys and games they own. My daughter has several Barbies along with other dolls and I don’t think she gives any shits about how thin and beautiful Barbie is- she understands that it’s just a toy, much like her other toys, and doesn’t seem to think too far beyond that. Maybe we should all take a cue from the second graders and just calm the hell down.

(Image: Stefano Tinti/Shutterstock)