Monday, April 15, 2013

Mexico Barbie- Is she more than just a toy?


Last week we noticed that Mattel had recently released a new line of Barbies called "Barbies of the World". This line includes dolls from Japan, Spain, France, Scotland and even the Amazon. All over Facebook I kept seeing friends voicing their opinions on the new Mexico Barbie. She is described as...

¡Hola! Welcome to Mexico! Inspired  by traditional mariachis and marimbas, Mexico Barbie® doll is ready for any fiesta! Doll wears a bright pink ruffled dress with colorful lace and ribbon accents. Includes “passport,” country stickers, Chihuahua friend and brush.

And she looks like this.... 


Cristina Rodriguez had a very strong opinion on the matter. On Facebook she stated

 "Mattel's Mexican Barbie!!! Grrrrrrr I don't like it!!!! So many reasons why!!!! #lame"  

We asked her to tell us a little bit about why this Mexico Barbie was so upsetting to her...... 

           I’ve always loved Barbies. I loved dressing them up and creating an imaginary life for them. Now that I’m older I’m not quite sure I relate to Barbies. With the emergence of the new “Mexican Barbie” I became quite disappointed. Actually more than disappointed I was irate. I saw her on the 10 p.m. news. My eyes honed in on the small dog in her arms. She held a Chihuahua and was dressed in a Jalisco dress. Those things really didn’t make me as angry as the fact that she comes with a passport. The things that raced through my mind are what are the ideas children will believe based on this “Mexican Barbie”? I thought do all Mexican girls look like this? Do they all have Chihuahuas? Do they carry a passport? No, No they don’t.  “Regular Barbie” doesn't come with a passport! Not all women look like Barbie period. Just like not all women are the proportion or “perfection” of Barbie, not all Mexicans are “Mexican Barbies”. Some of us wear jeans. Some Mexican women don’t like dogs. Some love dogs. Yes, Mexicans are documented and undocumented. Is that the point that is trying to be made here? Mexicans should come with legal status. The underlying “hidden” message if you will is legal status. I felt disappointed and upset. I tried to be objective and say that this is just one depiction of a “Mexican woman”. I tried to say it was just a doll, that maybe the passport is for her exciting adventurous life. Maybe “Mexican Barbie” studies abroad from time to time that’s why she needs a passport. Really? Who are we kidding? So many thoughts and concerns cross my mind while looking at what people see as just a doll. Barbie is more than a doll she is someone little girls admire and long to be. I have a goddaughter who is 5 and is already struggling with identity issues mainly her body image based on what she sees and hears. That just demonstrates how social constructions, media and environment can impact and shape the thoughts of a child. The truth is in order to do complete justice to any human these dolls need to come in a variety of colors, shapes, sizes, occupations, etc. My biggest concern lies in the smallest accessory that comes with this doll. This small accessory conveys the biggest message.

Cristina, thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. 
This new Mexico Barbie has really caused some discussion. 
What do you think? Is this just a doll, or is it sending a deeper message? 
Leave us a comment. We want to hear your opinion! 

11 comments:

  1. You know I MIGHT have an issue with this if "Mexico" Barbie was the only doll in this line that came with a "passport" but all of the dolls in the line come with the same pink "Barbie" passport. All dolls in the line are dressed in fashions that reflect the countries each dolls is based out of. Are they perfect representations? No, but neither is the US Doll which is one dressed in same manner as the Statue of Liberty and how many US women actually wear robes and carry a torch? Or Japan Ken that carries a sword and is dressed for battle. Or China Barbie who is holding a freaking panda. And TBH I have a modified Barbie doll that I purchased in Ocampo, GTO, MX (my home town) that is dressed similarly minus the passport and dog. Should I have taken the woman who made the modifications to the doll to task for this? I feel like Mattel is damned if they do and damned if they don't. I'm sorry but we as Latinos need to focus on the issues that matter: taxes,immigration, drugs and guns all rate higher on my radar then one doll that is treated the same as EVERY other doll in the line. I mean people chose to make this an issue? Seriously?

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    1. You are so right about Mattel being damned if they do and damned if they don't. If they did not make dolls to represent different ethnicities and Barbie was just blonde haired and blue eyed people would be upset. And they make this attempt to represent different nationalities and people are upset. In my opinion I think there is a way to represent different ethnicities and nationalities without using such obvious stereotypes (chihuahuas, swords, pandas etc...) When I saw this Barbie I thought "I wonder if the Ken doll is wearing a sarape and sitting against a cactus". I agree that we need to focus on the bigger issues, in the grand picture this is a very small thing but small things can add up. I think that as Latino's we have to have an opinion on how the media, and big corporations represent us.

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    2. See but what is wrong if Ken is wearing a sarape and leaning on a cactus (other than the painful pricking form cactus needles!). Mi tio wears one on his rancho ALL the time and his sarape doesn't make me think any less of him or make me think he is embracing a stereotype. He is proud of who he is and where he comes from. As am I which is why I don't offend as easily when it comes to stuff like this. I get more offended at the idea of the "chola" being the norm for Mexican American women. I often wonder if this would be an issue if a Mexican toy company made this exact same doll, dog and all. I am tempted to share a photo of the Ken and Barbie set I purchased in Mexico. The physical dolls are from Mattel but the clothing is handmade by a woman in my town.

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    3. In my opinion the stereotypical image of the man in the sarape with big hat leaning against the cactus reinforces the negative stereotype that Mexican are lazy. I really liked your point about the "chola" image as the norm. It sounds like you are very confident in who you are. You seem like a strong and proud Latina. We would love to see pictures of the dolls. You can put them on our Facebook wall if you want! www.facebook.com/hermamas.

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  2. This is the first I've seen the Mexico Barbie but my first impression was the length of the dress. I think it should have been calf length and perhaps instead of the Chihuahua, she could be holding a bouquet of paper flowers. I agree that we shouldn't try to read so much into it; I'm sure Mattel was not intentionally trying to insult. I do not mind that the United States is represented by baseball, apple pie and cowboys which are three things I do not relate to at all but take no offense in. Thanks.

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    1. Tawny, I agree with you. I don't think Mattel is intentionally trying to insult an audience. I actually recently visited a toy factor which is a Mattel competitor and I was surprised at the amount of research that goes into toy creation. There are entire sectors devoted to international sales, creating what would sell in all cultures and remaining sensitive to different markets. It appears that a lot goes into the smallest of details. I don't know that more can be done to avoid offending some folks, some of the time. It's a give and take for sure.

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  3. I can see Ashley and Tawny's points of view and understand. I did ask myself if that was the true motivation of the toy company. I know there has been a lot of controversy over Barbie as a true depiction of women and as I stated Barbie is not a realistic depiction of women. I am not bothered by the dress of the "Mexico Barbie". I am glad that she is in regional attire. I thank you Ashley for bringing to my attention the line of multicultural Barbies and that the others come with passports as well. I also am please just as you are that the doll is not depicted as "a chola" which is a norm. I suppose I am coming from a place where I've seen these stereotypes perpetuated so much especially in media that is difficult to see it as an innocent gesture. What I wrote was my first initial reaction. There is no way to do complete justice in representing the human form via toys. It is difficult to I just feel there are so many things that can be representative of the culture (accessory wise). Why does it have to be a passport? Perhaps something else representative of Mexico's rich culture.

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    1. Your views are much appreciated, thanks for sharing. Anything that sparks a deeper conversation actually leaves us feeling more attune to our feelings and life experiences. Thank you again for sharing your perspective and delving into what can be a pretty "hot topic".

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  4. No, she is not more than just a toy. Ashley's initial reaction was in response to a "Barbie of the world" coming with a passport. My first thought was that all the "Barbies of the world" came with one. It makes sense with the whole international thing.

    Us Latinas need to chill out. It is reactions like Ashley's that helps to keep these negative stereotypes alive. Her first thought was "immigration/legal status". While those issues are definitely important, we need to remember that Mexicans are more than that!

    A Mexican man in a sarape leaning against a cactus have NEVER made me think of Mexicans being lazy. But for some reason it makes Elissa L. think they are. Maybe Elissa, YOU think Mexicans are lazy. And guess what, you being offended about it could also shape your children's point of view. Kids might just see an image like that and wonder about the foreign world that man lives in, or think about how hard Mexicans work outdoors. Even if he is taking a nap, when was the last time you took a nap outside, under a tree, sitting up?

    And what is so wrong about the chihuahua? They come from mexico! If you think that a chihuahua is offensive, it's because you have something against this little dog. I'm sure if they did put this barbie with an accessory like paper flowers, like Tawny suggested, you would find some reason why that is offensive.

    The dress, the dog, sarapes... these are all symbols of the country we come from. Be proud of them. Use the doll as a way to introduce these things to your children. How and why they represent Mexicans, how they represent us. Trust me, most white people don't look at these images and think they way we do. Don't be so angry, BE PROUD.

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    1. Anonymous, thanks for your comment. We encourage respectful discussion here on HerMamas. We respect your opinions and want to hear them. But please do not make hurtful comments. You made an assumption that I think Mexican's are lazy because I believe that an image perpetuates a stereotype. This could not be further from the truth. I have degrees in Chicano Studies and have studied at length how the images in the media are interpreted and used. This image is a very common stereotype. An image search of the term "lazy mexican" will prove this point. I think that it is important that we take a look at how Latinos are be represented. You are right that the dog and dress are parts of Mexican culture (or at least from certain parts of Mexico) and they are a good jumping off point to start a discussion about Mexican customs. I wonder what Mom's from Mexico think about this doll? I wonder if they feel it is a fair representation of their culture?

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  5. No hurt meant. But I did google image search "lazy mexican" and clicked on the link to the first image that came up. Quote "a Missouri politician who is offering to trade lazy locals for hardworking Mexican immigrants."

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Comment aka Props!