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Mexico Barbie, Mattel, Racial Stereotypes

Mexico Barbie Perpetuates a False Stereotype of Mexican Women ~Throat Punch Thursday

by Deborah Cruz

Mexico Barbie, Mattel, Mexico, Mexican Barbie

Hey Latinas, does this Mexico Barbie represent you?

Did you know that Mattel has a new Mexico Barbie coming out? At first I thought, hell yeah! I was so excited. I grew up on Barbie. I love her and so do my girls. Now, I’ll have a Mexican Barbie to share with my little girls. A Barbie that represents their culture, their heritage, their mother and themselves. Thank you Mattel!

Then I saw Mexico Barbie.

Mexican Barbie is dressed in a traditional Mexican folkloric dress; a fluorescent pink dress with multicolored ribbons. She comes with a Chihuahua dog under her arm and in the box is also a passport, you know so she’s documented. After all, we don’t want Mexico Barbie in “our” country unless she is here legally with up to date papers.Something about Mexico Barbie does not sit well with this Mexican.

I know I should be thankful that there is even a Barbie representing Mexicans at all; what with Hispanics only making up 17% of the population as of 2011. After all, there are only 51.9 million of us. What’s the magic number to be recognized enough to deserve a Barbie in your honor these days?

This Mexico Barbie annoys me because firstly, nobody wears that outfit in Mexico, unless they are part of a folkloric dancing troupe performing at a festival or on stage. Secondly, we don’t all wear bright colors and we’re not all-loud, attention seeking people. Okay, we are loud and we’re passionate people. We talk with our hands and we are colorful but damn it we don’t all wear fluorescent colors and I hate to break it to you but the only time I’ve ever seen a Chihuahua being carried it’s never been by a Mexican.

What’s with the damn Chihuahua? I’ve hated those yappy little bastards since Taco Bell shoved them down our throats in their campaign. For the record, no self respecting dog from Mexico would be caught dead eating fake Mexican food. Yes, I know Chihuahua dogs originate from Mexico and are named for the state of Chihuahua but not every Mexican owns them or even likes them.

It’s a stereotype and that is what bothers me about this Barbie the most.

My daughters are Latinas. They both have blonde hair and blue eyes. They are not stereotypical. The point is the Mexican American population is so diverse; we come in all shapes, sizes and colors. We have blondes, brunettes and redheads. None of us wear the folkloric dresses on a daily basis and most of us don’t own Chihuahuas.

Don’t even get me started on the passport. Was that a dig at the whole documented workers conversation? A nod to immigration legislation? I suppose at least this way Mexican Barbie won’t get hounded by immigration or deported. I’m curious to see what the name on the passport reads? Bertha Maria Consuela Conchita Guadalupe Reyes Cruz?

I guess I should be glad that they didn’t put a teeny tiny bottle of tequila in the box or fill the box with 6 children or throw a Comal in there and some tortillas or tamales. Is she wearing a gold Virgen de Guadalupe medallion? Holding a rosary?

I’m glad Mattel is making an effort to recognize the Mexican population and making a doll that they think looks like every little Mexican girl in the world, only it doesn’t. If Mattel is going to make this Barbie, I’d like to see, Mexican Lawyer Barbie and Mexican Doctor Barbie and Mexican Judge Barbie. How about the first Mexican-American Female President of the United States Barbie? Let’s make it a positive thing for our children, not a doll that perpetuates stereotypes that are used as cages for our little girls for years to come.

I say Mattel got it wrong. Fuck the Mexico Barbie.

Mexico Barbie is it realistic or culturally insensitive?

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dumb mom 2013/04/11 - 12:10 pm

Fortunately, I’m not in the market for a Barbie of any cultural orientation. It’s funny how Latinos are portrayed in popular cultural though in general. Being a partially Mexican family, we are pretty fed up with the acoustic guitar that seems to accompany any Latino person on TV. Reality shows, sitcoms, kid shows, movies, whatever. The acoustic guitar is there, busting salsa or playing subtly in the background. My husband is convinced we’re doing our boys a disservice by NOT teaching them to play one. And, he’s asked me if I could learn so I can follow him around town and play it as he enters the hardware store, and drops the kids off at soccer. That would be sorta awesome though…

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/11 - 12:37 pm

Yeah, I thought about the guitarra y el futbol but I’m sure Mattel is saving that for Mexico Ken or Paco pr Jose or whatever they decide to call him:) The funny thing about it, my dad and brothers all play the guitar ( as do I but not very well) and my dad always seems to be playing it. It truly is the soundtrack to my life and would not be complete without it. My girls expect Grandpa Manny to be here with his guitar serenading them at every opportunity. I am proud to be Mexicana and I love those bright pink folklorico dresses but in context not as a stereotype. We are all just people, humans trying to survive an be good at what we do:)

P.S. My brothers all played soccer in South Chicago growing up and I’ve never been to a soccer game there where are least 4 dads weren’t playing guitar somewhere in the park:)LOL I love it.

Maria 2013/04/16 - 1:56 am

I am Mexican and I am not offended by the doll. I don’t think there is anything wrong with the doll or the clothing. I do believe though that the person that wrote the article above used inappropriate language and if she is going to be judging on how Mattel represents the culture I believe we need to start with her first. Using foul language in an article is not correct and she is just showing how insensitive and unprofessional she is towards people that read these articles. I think there are more important things we need to worry about and a doll is not one of them. I think some people are just to overly sensitive and lack confidence. Please just let it go and get a real life!

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/16 - 1:11 pm

Thanks for voicing your opinion and weighing in on the topic. I am glad that it does not offend you. It DOES offend me. We are all entitled to our opinions. And just as you are entitled to not be offended by the doll, I am equally entitled to be offended. I wrote this piece for a personal blog, not a news publication, the very nature of a blog allows me to write in a more casual tone. I was mad, so I used a curse word ( in Spanish). Most of my readers won’t know that I am cursing. I am neither insensitive or unprofessional. This is my blog and my readers know that sometimes I curse, it has nothing to do with a lack of respect for them.
There are certainly more important things to be worried about in the world. If you find me to be overly sensitive and lacking confidence, then maybe you should not return to my site and go harass someone else. I have a rich and full real life and I am a strong passionate woman with strong views.If you don’t like them, you can choose not to read this blog.Have a great day and may God bless you with a rich and full life.

Kathleen @Middletini 2013/04/11 - 1:05 pm

Is it part of an international Barbie series? I wonder if the Japanese Barbie is dressed like a geisha, or the African Barbie is in tribal costume, or the Chinese Barbie has her feet bound? I think it would be one thing if there were a storyline where Barbie is a high-powered surgeon who likes to perform at folk festivals for fun and has an alternative outfit for that, but if the implication is that this is what Mexicans in general are like, there’s a difference between cultural pride and stereotyping, and Mattel blew it. And the passport thing … I can’t even.

On the upside, the President Barbie my daughter has is Latina, or at least has dark hair and olive skin. I’d show you a picture, but she’s naked at the bottom of a toy bin somewhere.

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/11 - 1:24 pm

These are exactly my points. The folklorico dresses are used in performances. I spent my summers growing up in Mexico and I NEVER saw a woman just walking around the plaza wearing these costumes. It’s 2013, they wear the same thing we where in the States just with a little more modesty because there are still parts there where they are old fashioned about body parts hanging out but I think that’s a good thing, right?:) Anyways, you get it. I have cultural pride but I don;t want the average person who maybe doesn’t have any interaction with the hispanic community to think we are nothing more than loud folkloric clothing and yappy chihuahua dogs. We’re people, just like every one else.

Teegs 2013/04/12 - 8:26 pm

Look the international barbies up- they are dressed like that! Just not the bound feet one, bc that’s kind of inappropriate to introduce a child to. https://www.barbie.com/dolls-of-the-world/

Kathleen @Middletini 2013/04/11 - 1:08 pm

Wow. There’s a difference between cultural pride and stereotyping, and Mattel blew it. I wonder if Japanese Barbie is dressed as a geisha, or African Barbie is in tribal costume? On the upside, my daughter’s President Barbie looks Latina to me. I’d send you a picture, but it’s naked at the bottom of toy bin somewhere.

Jess 2013/04/11 - 1:40 pm

I like it because at least there’s a barbie who is brown and not because she’s tanned. BUT this should be a “dolls of the world” type Barbie because I don’t know a single person who dresses like that. EVER. Maybe they should have put NORMAL clothes on her like the kind we all wear, like everyone else.

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/11 - 2:06 pm

@Jess, Exactly. It is a dolls of the world series Barbie but it still just doesn’t sit right with me. I think she is beautiful and maybe it wouldn’t even piss me off so much if it were manufactured by a Mexican company and sold in Mexico and sold as FOLKLORIC MEXICO BARBIE but it pisses me off that its a generalized representation of Mexican women in general. Girl, I’ve got plenty of peasant shirts from MExico but NEVER have I dressed in one of those dresses to go grocery shopping:) I wonder if Mexico Ken will have a Sombrero , Pancho and un burro or a futbol and guitarra. You know if they made me into a Barbie, I want the damn churros:)LOL Debi Barbie FTW! Churros for the world

Anne 2013/04/12 - 5:41 am

Barbie has never been an accurate depiction of any woman ever. Why would you expect accuracy to begin now? She’s not who your daughters should be getting their cultural pride from, that should come from you! I am not Latina, but I am Scottish, and darn tootin’ if there’s a Scottish Barbie coming you know she’s going to be dressed in a micro-mini tartan with a tam on her head and a Scottie dog under her arm. But I’d just laugh at the doll and not buy it because Mattel is clueless. I do take issue with Mexico Barbie having a passport, though. That’s just ridiculous.

Cat 2013/04/15 - 12:00 pm

Your comment about a Mexican President of the United States Barbie is ridiculous. A president of the United States should first and foremost be represented as AMERICAN, regardless of skin color, ethnic background or heritage.

Deborah Cruz 2013/04/15 - 1:18 pm

When I said Mexican, I meant Mexican American,like me; my father is from Mexico but I was born and raised in the United States. I am American. My point was that Mexican women are not just beautiful wearing bright frilly clothing and holding chihuahuas; we can be anything we want to be. This doll as a representation of the Mexican woman is insulting. I say this as a Mexican American woman. That is my opinion. You are entitled to your own. Thanks for weighing in.

Cat 2013/04/15 - 2:28 pm

Hi Deborah, I do agree with you that the doll presents a stereotyped version of a Mexican woman. However, all of the Barbies in their “Dolls of the World Collection” are like that – I lived in France as a teen and not once did I ever see anyone dressed like the French Barbie. I think the stereotyped clothing is attractive to children because it illuminates vast differences in style. It might be difficult/unexciting for a kid to see only subtle changes in style. I’m not sure if I agree with it or disagree with it. All of them also come with their own passport. Wouldn’t it insinuate much worse if the Mexican Barbie did not?

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