When reading the post about the Life Size movie, I was reminded of the false notions of racial diversity and multiculturalism produced by Mattel in the Barbie series of dolls. This image is Mattel’s alternative Barbie: the Tribal Beauty Barbie Doll (part of the 2013 Global Glamour Collection).
Here is an entirely stereotyped, superficial, and offensive vision of Tribal African Barbie: a light-skinned women wearing heavy Western makeup, an elaborate yet cultureless headdress, a golden breastplate, a high spilt in her tailored skirt, complete with zebra heels and a staff. Her description says that her attire “pays tribute to the royal splendor of Africa and her status as a reigning queen of fashion.” There is nothing native about her appearance or her attire. An African tribal queen looks nothing like this Barbie. The doll represents a Westernized, commercialized, and highly misrepresentative of African tribal culture. Instead, it depicts outdated, simplistic, and offensive notions of the eroticized “other.” The doll does not represent cultural diversity as Mattel intended it to instead it reinforces harmful stereotypes.