Updated: Apr 25
By Denise Renée Purdie
So, I saw this earlier and it did not sit right on my spirit.
I made a comment on the post to the effect that I hope Mattel supports Melanated nonprofits and entrepreneurs with some of the money that they are making from our desire to see ourselves (rightly so) represented. The fact that we are a huge consumer force in this country is not up for debate and so a lot of companies court our dollars, without really caring much about us or our communities. (((Cue "They don’t care about us!" by Michael Jackson!!! And after you finish with your dance routine and lip-synching, come on back!!!)))
So, I have thought this for a long time, but it took reading this article (Ashley, 2019) by a non-melanated person to cement that I just wasn’t being my normal cynical self. That isn’t to say I needed another ethnicity to give my opinion validity, but it really underpinnned I wasn’t the only one seeing what I was seeing;
“For Mattel, diversity is an afterthought they plug into an already bloated line of repetitive dolls in an effort to make more money. Diversity is their money grab, and they’re not even very good at it.”
I don’t really believe in reinventing the wheel so I strongly encourage you to read both of these articles, as they have different takes on this matter. I am in the camp of supporting Melanated companies who create dolls in our image. I have not compiled a complete list, but I did a quick Google so hopefully this will start you on your journey if you believe in supporting black-owned companies who create dolls for us:
At the end of the day, diversity does matter, but intent does too. Think about whether companies are just doing lip service to make money, or are they really interested in including us and telling our stories in a meaningful way. Evaluate that and spend your money accordingly.
Ashley, S. (2019, January 17). “What Barbie Gets Wrong About Diversity.” Medium. https://medium.com/@Shesreallyfat/barbie-cant-evolve-past-being-a-basic-white-bitch-2785665e2988
Williams, E. (2022, August 24). “Mattel Has Released A New Barbie Honoring The Legacy Of Madam CJ Walker And It's Everything.” Essence. https://www.essence.com/lifestyle/madam-cj-walker-doll