Ever since Mattel launched the iconic Barbie doll in March 1959, the doll has sparked its fair of controversy. One of the most common being that Barbie promotes an unrealistic body image for young women. Mattel has also been accused of not having enough diversity, both with the doll and her accessories, throughout the years. You would think that in 2013, Mattel would have addressed these concerns, but it looks like that the company hasn’t.
Even though Mattel introduced the first black Barbie back in 1968, it still took the company until 2009 for them to debut its first black Barbie doll line, called “So In Style”. These dolls featured fuller lips, wider noses, and more pronounced cheekbones. However, Mattel is apparently still providing little in the form of diverse Barbie accessories.
Georgia Braithwaite and her mother,Karen Braithwaite, brought this issue to the forefront after they noticed that there weren’t any diverse party supplies, such as cups, tablecloths, napkins, banners, and decorations, for the four-year-old’s Barbie-themed birthday party.
Because of this lack of diversity, Ms. Braithwaite began an online petition over at Change.org, which reads:
Offer party supplies featuring Barbies of Color! Young girls of color have birthdays, and young girls of color love Barbie. So why only offer party supplies very PROMINENTLY featuring one, white Barbie? Consumers want choices that are just as diverse as our society. The deeper issue is about the images and portrayals of women and girls of color in the media, pop culture, and their daily lives. Barbie represents a positive image of a confident young woman who is fashionable, who can be anything from a fairy, to a doctor, to an astronaut. Barbies of color represent all these things to young girls of color, and the Barbie theme is a very popular birthday party theme. Mattel is already on the right track by offering a wide selection of dolls of different races and ethnicities–which simply begs the question: why not give young girls of color the option of seeing and celebrating that same diversity when it comes to celebrating themselves?
Ms. Braithwaite has also been taking her campaign to the media. She recently told The Observer, that since Mattel has diversified the brand so much “little girls of color have no concept of Barbie only being white.”
Mattel spokesman Alan Hilowitz emailed The Observer defending the company’s record on diversity,
“We work closely with various partners to develop and distribute Barbie-themed products, such as party supplies, and we will be sharing this valuable feedback with them to start conversations and evaluate the business. We listen carefully to our consumers and take all feedback seriously.”
Obviously, if this statement was true, little Georgia Braithwaite would be having the Barbie birthday party that she wants, and deserves.
As of now, the petition has close to 5,000 signatures. This definitely seems to be striking home for plenty of Barbie girls.
Image via Wikimedia Commons