Barbie

Original Image Description From Source: Iconic doll character Barbie is getting a full-on diversity makeover for 2016.

(Image source: www.pinknews,co.uk)

I’ve probably read more text about Barbie than about any toy ever created. I’ve heard her name in deep and serious discussions by Feminists.
I’ve chatted with mothers who were frustrated at their childs’s desperate pleas for a Barbie, when they’d vowed never to buy one for their children.
Barbie is part of our cultural zeitgeist.
I admit that I even own a Barbie, well not actually a Barbie, but a friend of Barbie’s, Share a Smile Becky was the first wheelchair doll I’d ever seen.
No matter what she had been named, to everyone I knew, and this was long before I became disabled myself, she was known as Wheelchair Barbie.

Image description: Share a smile Becky sitting in a pink wheelchair. (Image source: latest-wrinkle.com)

So when I heard that Mattel was going to make huge changes to the line and make it more diverse, I was pleased and even hopeful, that ‘diverse’ actually meant ‘diverse.’

Here’s the statement, from an executive at Mattel, Ms Mazzocco, that I read: “We are excited to literally be changing the face of the brand – these new dolls represent a line that is more reflective of the world girls see around them – the variety in body type, skin tones and style allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.”

Then I saw the picture of the new Barbies. It is clear, instantly, that there isn’t a doll with a visible disability of any kind in amongst the bunch. Barbie had clearly dumped Becky, no matter how much she smiled, Becky. Is Barbie, and I can’t believe I’m asking this question, a bigot? That’s bad enough but let’s take a look at some of the statements made:

First, Ms Mazzocco, said that the dolls were ‘more reflective of the world girls see around them.’ It is clear that Mazzocco imagines a world where disability doesn’t exist and that children live in an exclusionary world where none with a disability dare enter. It angers me, deeply angers me, that Ms Mazzocco, presents to kids a world view that disability isn’t welcome.

Worse, Mazzocco says, that the dolls ‘allows girls to find a doll that speaks to them.’ Hmmm, I guess kids with disabilities aren’t customers or don’t want dolls. Or is it instead that Mattel believes that children with disabilities don’t deserve dolls? Has Mattel reintroduced the ‘ugly laws‘ in dolldom? I’m guessing so, because she went on to say: “We believe we have a responsibility to girls and parents to reflect a broader view of beauty,” So, neither ‘diversity’ or ‘beauty’ includes disabled children. Nice!

It’s a hateful act. They know how to make a doll in a wheelchair so a white cane or a guide dog shouldn’t be out of their range of expertise.

Would a doll with Down Syndrome be that hard to make? Why not just say MATTEL MAKES DOLLS FOR NON-DISABLED CHILDREN EXCLUSIVELY, and be done with it.

But they expect us to either not notice or not do anything about it.

I want to make something blatantly clear to companies, to newspapers, to writers of books and stories. You can’t freaking use the word ‘diverse’ if it doesn’t include us. We are part of diversity and without us it isn’t diverse – it’s exclusionary. We are massive in number, we are part of this world and this society and don’t you dare use the word ‘diverse’ if we aren’t there.

It was difficult to find who to write at Mattel, Mazzocco’s email address no where to be found. In fact the only email address they give out is for the press, so that’s where I’m sending this blog. Some of you may also wish to write.
The only email on the Mattel webpage was for the press, I wrote there and recieved this response: If you are looking for more information on today’s Barbie announcement, please visit the Barbie Media site at BarbieMedia.com, which includes the press release, product fact sheet, downloadable images, b-roll, etc.  For more Barbie information contact Michelle Chidoni (michelle.chidoni@mattel.com  or Marissa Beck (marissa.beck2@mattel.com ). Which, of course, I’ve done. (The reply email also posted their phone numbers, I never post phone numbers on this blog.)