Barbie’s ‘Day Of The Dead’ Doll Spurs Controversy Over Cultural Appropriation
By Izza Sofia, 03 Nov 2020
Image via Barbie
Mattel has sparked controversy with its latest Day of the Dead Barbie doll.
Day of the Dead—or Dia de los Muertos—is a holiday celebrated in Mexico during the first two days of November. Mexicans are seen honoring their deceased loved ones during this somber time.
The 2020 Dia de Muertos Barbie has its face painted in “Calavera” (skull) style. It also wears a lace gown with embroidery on its top and ballgown skirt. The doll, which retails for US$75.99, is currently sold out.
Sociology professor Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez expressed doubts towards the toymaker’s “genuine interest” in Mexican culture. “It’s more an interest in making money,” she told CNN. “Who is this doll going to? Is it the Mexican worker who cleans homes? Are they identifying themselves with Barbie?”
He added that the holiday has been “secularized through pop culture, and then it found market in this country.”
Sociologist Roberto Alvarez agreed with Gonzalez-Lopez’s criticisms, stating that the Day of the Dead is supposed to be a somber event. Since gaining mainstream popularity from Disney Pixar’s Coco movie, Alvarez said “the cultural, hereditary and symbolic importance that this holiday has for Mexico opens up in the eyes of the market opportunities that are exploited by these firms.”
Social media users also voiced out their frustrations on Twitter, with many accusing Mattel for cultural appropriation.
Mattel previously released a similar doll back in 2019, which was designed by Mexican-American artist Javie Meabe. “It was important to me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well, as have the traditions I grew up with represented and celebrated in Barbie," Meabe told CNN. “For this doll, I was inspired by the color gold seen throughout Mexican culture, jewelry, buildings, statues, and artwork and highlighted it throughout the design.”
#Barbie celebrates Día de Muertos with a doll inspired by the colorful traditions of the holiday. Created by Mexican American designers inspired by their own traditions, the doll pays tribute to the holiday and celebrates Barbie fans who observe the day. 💀🥀 Happy #DiaDeMuertos! pic.twitter.com/67QmepKA70— Barbie (@Barbie) November 1, 2020
From the delicate lace embroidered dress, to the captivating calavera face paint, the #Barbie Día de Muertos doll pays tribute to the customs of families around the world.https://t.co/xHEXkYiPJa pic.twitter.com/lQiQXiaKSl— Barbie (@Barbie) September 2, 2020
Making money of our culture.... pic.twitter.com/I7IyWXlcKW— 𝒰𝓃𝒶 𝒞𝒽𝒾𝒸𝒶 & 𝒯𝒽𝑒 𝒞𝒾𝓉𝓎 (@nightowlvegana) November 1, 2020
$75 for this doll.— I Dissent (@Im_half_awake) November 1, 2020
I want to know what the hell has Mattel or Barbie done for Latinos? There’s a bunch of kids in cages on the border... and these people want to sell my culture for $75 , but you can get Barbies for $20-$30.
This is ridiculous.
A special, sacred tradition is now being exploited by capitalism, through a toy that has reproduced sexism, for a long time.https://t.co/CgYllEVNoG— Gloria Gonzalez-Lopez (@Gloriafemfam) November 1, 2020
[via Pop Culture, cover image via Barbie]
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