Donate Now
Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply
my profile | directory login | register | search | faq | forum home

  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» Got Questions? Get Answers. » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Bodies » On Little Black Girls, Beauty and Barbie Dolls

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!    
Author Topic: On Little Black Girls, Beauty and Barbie Dolls
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I just saw this really fantastic blog entry and burgeoning project I had to share with all of you.

http://blacksnob.squarespace.com/snob_blog/2009/2/3/on-little-black-girls-beauty-and-barbie-dolls.html

Here's some great quotes from it:

quote:
So he took one Barbie page and I took mine. I, quite proudly, made my Barbie look just like the one on the cover, blonde and blue-eyed. Then I looked over at daddy who was coloring his own Barbie but he had done something entirely unexpected to me. He'd taken the brown crayon and made her skin brown. He'd taken the black crayon and gave her beautiful dark hair. He showed his finished picture to me and said sweetly, "Don't you think she's pretty too?"

This was my first "mind-blown" experience. At five it had never occurred to me that I could make Barbie or any drawing anything I wanted it to be. I was following "the rules." Barbies were white. Beautiful people were white. I had never occurred to me that I could "break the rules." I looked at my dad's coloring and thought that was the most beautiful Barbie in the world.

I never colored a white Barbie again. I wanted them to be all as beautiful as the one my father had made.

quote:
That's why you have to wage a war from the time your son or daughter crawls out of the crib to get them to where my parents got me. You have to show them over and over images of our beauty. My mother bought us the book "When and Where I Enter" and "I Dream A World." I read "The Color Complex" as a teen. We had regular study sessions over the works of Jawanza Kunjufu. She even dragged us to his one film, "Up Against the Wall."

She told us over her pride in having an "African nose" when people mocked her flat, wide nose. She encouraged us in music and dance and art, surrounding us with as much good energy as she could. Because it was her versus the world, a world that wanted us to believe we were not beloved or lovely.

Our father took thousands of pictures of us. My grandfather introduced us all as his "pretty, smart granddaughters from St. Louis." And no matter how bad a day I had at school I would look in the mirror with tears in my eyes and see myself as beautiful and tell the world it was crazy if it couldn't see what I saw.

I was lucky, but I can't say other black women were.

It's seriously amazing, go run and read it, then I'd love you to pop back with your thoughts and experiences.

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68215 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Kalex
Activist
Member # 43486

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Kalex     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
That's a really lovely piece of writing. I've never quite understood our culture's fixation with blonde hair and blue eyes. Not that there's anything wrong with it, but there are so many kinds of beauty. I remember being a little kid and quite admiring darker-skinned people. It seemed so unfair that they didn't get sunburns as easily as I could. Darker skin seemed so much more practical, and it looked so beautiful in the sunlight. Then I got a little older and started learning about all the discrimination. I thought it was crazy.

It frustrates me so much that the media never seems to realize the diversity of humanity, instead trying to foist some hyper-sexualized image of the 'perfect woman' on us from birth. Those Barbies, even the ones that aren't blondes, still have these unnatural proportions. Freakishly long legs, huge breasts, and a vacant, compliant smile. When I was little I thought if they were real they'd be dragged down by the weight on their chest, and snap in half because of their tiny waists. Why is this what we're trained to believe is beautiful? There are so many different kinds of beauty. Personally, the most beautiful woman I've ever seen on TV is Gina Torres from Firefly. Actually, she has those 'thick lips' that the author of that blog was criticized for, and I think she looks marvelous.

I can relate so much to the thing about not having Barbies that look like me. I stopped playing with them when I was six (books quickly replaced toys), but for a while I liked them. My sister and I have a fairly unusual shade of dark, coppery auburn hair, pale skin, and green eyes. Try finding a Barbie that looks like that. Not an easy task. Indeed, it's hard to find anyone in popular culture with my colouring.

Redheads are, I think, the overlooked minority. There's lots written about Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Blondes, etc, and how it feels to look 'different'. But redheads in particular seem to be treated as a cliche. 'Oh, look, a fiery redhead. Bet she has a temper!' I actually read an article the other day that described redheaded characters in books as 'something of a cliche', and I wanted to strangle the author. How dare he refer to the few heroes I found as a child as cliches?

People are people, and we're all a hell of a lot more attractive than we think. In the end, we have two eyes, a nose, two ears, ten fingers, a mouth, ten toes. So what if they are shaded differently? The essentials are all the same.

Posts: 52 | From: Canada | Registered: Jul 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Heather
Executive Director & Founder
Member # 3

Icon 1 posted      Profile for Heather     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I really appreciated some of what you said here, Kalex, but I do want to point something out about one of your statements (made as a fellow graying red, no less):

quote:
Redheads are, I think, the overlooked minority. There's lots written about Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, Blondes, etc, and how it feels to look 'different'. But redheads in particular seem to be treated as a cliche.
Race really is a different issue than our coloring, and if we're Caucasian (I don't know your race, so not presuming), I think it's important to keep an awareness of that, because no matter the variations of our coloring, in Western culture, we aren't an oppressed group in terms of race.

But also? There are Black redheads, Hispanic/Latino/Chicana redheads and Asian redheads. So, redheads as a group aren't separate from those groups, either. [Smile]

--------------------
Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
About Me • Get our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68215 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
eryn_smiles
Peer Ambassador
Member # 35643

Icon 1 posted      Profile for eryn_smiles         Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is a nice blog, but I guess I feel a little sad that a project like this would be necessary.

Growing up around children of many races it never occurred to me that white people were beautiful and others weren't. Yes, we played with Barbies (and often pulled off their heads!)...but we knew that image wasn't real life. One of my best friends was a gorgeous Filipino girl with olive skin and glossy black hair.

Speaking of beautiful Black women..at high school, I remember learning about this incredibly strong and inspiring Somali woman, Waris Dirie. So beautiful, inside and out. The film adaptation of her autobiography, "Desert Flower" is being released this month!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4W3imc7BSzo

--------------------
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

Posts: 1326 | Registered: Nov 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Bonnie.N.Clyde
Activist
Member # 34135

Icon 8 posted      Profile for Bonnie.N.Clyde     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
In the program I took last year, a group of students focused on toys and race. They went out to Toys R Us and other toy shops, and shopped online. What they found was pathetic. (our class was Native American and Black Studies, by the way) The only "Native American" (very loose!) mainstream toys they found were a very racist Indian Chief kite (brand name? "Funny Kite"!), smurfs with proclaimed "Native themes" ( "Canoe Smurf" was one), and a dollar store packet of plastic cowboys and Indians. For African Americans, there were a good assortment of Black baby dolls, but none of the photos on the box pictured Black girls or the Black dolls that were inside. Also, there were tough looking wrestling figures for boys. That was it.

Politically Incorrect Smufs Aplenty!

http://www.toydreamer.com.au/newsimages/2007smurfs.jpg

[ 10-28-2009, 06:59 PM: Message edited by: Bonnie.N.Clyde ]

--------------------
-
"And when everyone is super, no one will be."

-Syndrome, "THE INCREDIBLES"

Posts: 116 | From: Olympia, WA | Registered: May 2007  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
cocoballerina10
Neophyte
Member # 44941

Icon 1 posted      Profile for cocoballerina10     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
This is very true. I'm half African American/Half-Middle Eastern (with caramel skin and dark hair - no mistaken ethnicity here!) and I always had the blonde, blue-eyed Barbie dolls as a little girl.

But, you know what's interesting? In talking with my mother she bought me the white ones instead of the black ones. Why, I'm not sure. Perhaps it has to do with the culture she grew up in - we were never considered "pretty" by mainstream society simply because we are darker than white, with flat noses and kinky hair. It strikes me now, as I write this, that as a child I never considered myself prettier than my white friends. Interesting, no?

Great thread!

--------------------
Love passionately, Laugh brilliantly, Live extravagantly! :)

Posts: 2 | From: Atlanta,GA | Registered: Dec 2009  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
   

Quick Reply
Message:

HTML is not enabled.
UBB Code™ is enabled.

Instant Graemlins
   


Post New Topic  New Poll  Post A Reply Close Topic   Feature Topic   Move Topic   Delete Topic next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:


Contact Us | Get the Whole Story! Go Home to SCARLETEEN: Sex Ed for the Real World | Privacy Statement

Copyright 1998, 2014 Heather Corinna/Scarleteen
Scarleteen.com: Providing comprehensive sex education online to teens and young adults worldwide since 1998

Information on this site is provided for educational purposes. It is not meant to and cannot substitute for advice or care provided by an in-person medical professional. The information contained herein is not meant to be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or for prescribing any medication. You should always consult your own healthcare provider if you have a health problem or medical condition.

Powered by UBB.classic™ 6.7.3