top of page

Barbie: Daring You to Be YOU!

Several years ago, I was engaged in a conversation about Barbie with a young girl of Dominican heritage. The young girl, with a beautiful caramel complexion and beautiful thick hair, was playing with her Barbie, which was given by her grandmother. I was a graduate student in Forensic Psychology at the time, and I just watched the psychology study on the Doll Test. I decided to ask the young girl, as she played with her blond haired and blue-eyed Barbie, would she like to play with a darker skinned Barbie. She told me, "No, porque ella es fea! La rubia es mas bonita". I was stunned that this little girl believed the darker toned Barbie was ugly, and the blond Barbie viewed as prettier. This young girl of African heritage felt that those of color were not as beautiful as the white, blond haired, blue-eyed doll. I turned to her grandmother to ask her about this, and she said the same thing. I was floored and thought to myself, "How is it possible that people who blatantly display their African heritage in their features could say that a doll that mirrored those same characteristics is considered "Fea" or "Ugly"!"

Further encounters with this young girl taught me that she was a part of a system of thinking that promoted an inferiority complex amongst those who did not fit into the look of the mainstream culture. The 'Black Power' Movement did not hit the area where her family lived in the Dominican Republic. Angela Davis and Pam Grier were not iconic figures promoting girl power and black pride in their neck of the woods. So it is understood that this grandmother and this young child still developed ideas that seem so foreign to me. Especially since I come from a Latin American family who is the complete opposite, promoting black consciousness within the family and the Latino community.

The United States is still light years ahead of many other countries in promoting racial diversity even with all of its' racial tensions that still exist. This promotion of cultural diversity is exemplified with these new Barbies and also one of my favorite Sesame Street episodes with Mando singing, "I love my hair" in Spanish. A new generation will grow to love and accept the cultural and physical diversity that exists worldwide because they are provided with toys and learning platforms that celebrate the differences that exist in human nature.