O-R-E- Oh No You Didn’t

What do Grace, Kara and Trichelle have in common besides having little sisters, Courtney, Kianna and Janessa? I’ll give you a hint: it has something to do with the current First Family. Give up? I’ll tell you. They are the latest in Mattel’s new feature-accurate “So In Style” African American Barbie doll line. The company decided the time was right to reassess how the company accommodates the needs of doll-needy African American girls. These new dolls come equipt with fuller lips, wider noses and pronounced cheekbones–everything that represents the African American woman. Well, except for one major flaw, a flaw so devastating that it has mother’s up in arms. Straight hair!

What was Stacey McBride-Irby thinking when she, an African American woman and veteran Barbie designer, created these new dolls with straight hair, for Heaven’s sake? Mother’s who want their daughters to embrace their natural hair feel they have an uphill battle in convincing their young daughters they are still beautiful even if they have curly hair but the new dolls are going to make that more difficult. That seems to be more of an issue than the exaggerated disproportionate measurements that both the black and white dolls have and according to Kumea Shorter-Gooden, author of “Shifting The Double Lives of Black Women in America” the diminutive, mainly Caucasian frame of the dolls have a more negative impact on black girls.

so in style


Oh great, so even white dolls are proponents of racism. And who cares if little white girls felt less than adequate, not having a waistline about the size of my neck at about 18 inches.

Wasn’t “you can’t please all of the people all of the time” the ending to Abraham Lincoln’s quote? That is so true, even when it concerns little girls’ toys. Even though this new “So In Style” doll line comes in varying skin tones; light brown, chocolate and caramel and the aforementioned more accurate facial features, there is still that hair issue. Some wondered why there couldn’t have been a shorter curlier afro on at least one of the dolls. So, the little sisters have the curlier hair, leaving the big sisters with longer hair to signify career-minded black women. Also voted out were the huge necklaces and earrings, trainers and ghetto blasters because these accouterments were met with the accusations of having racially negative stereotypes. But, there is a hair kit available for straightening the curlier hair.

Barbie-Black-1969-ChristieStill this new line is a far cry from the brown painted white doll, Christie, introduced in 1968 who was Barbie’s best friend. Hey, wait a minute! I though Midge was her best friend. Oh, yeah, Midge was her white-skinned red-headed best friend.

Oreo_Fun_Barbie  oreo fun barbie W  Then there was the Oreo Fun Barbie of 1997 fiasco, Mattel’s and Nabisco’s collaboration where both white and black versions of the doll were available for girls everywhere to play with and enjoy America’s favorite cookie at the same time. Oreo is a derogatory term for African Americans in that it is perceived that even black people are white inside and the item was yanked off the shelves.

I wonder, then, if I should have been offended when the two black women I used to work with, Annie and Fannie (I’m not kidding) used to call the three of us an Oreo cookie. I could have yanked them out of a job… all things being equal.

I think the moral of this is that, while employing Lincoln’s quote, variety is the spice of life, but with too much, there’s still not enough.


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One Response to “O-R-E- Oh No You Didn’t”

  1. A. R. Fuentes Says:

    This may be the best blog yet.I can’t even begin to formulate it’s praise: the ridiculous physical premise of Barbie dolls to begin with, layered w/ the horrible attempt at making her black, peppered w/ Lincoln’s quotes when He himself was an authority on racial equality and it’s most famous champion, then The Oreo Ditty – which is the biggest gem in the blog- it’s all priceless.

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