Monday, April 16, 2007

I played with cabbage patch dolls.

You know, I never really got too into Barbie. Cabbage Patch dolls, those fat weeble wobble little people, and a wide array of stuffed animals were more my things. But reading Kinky still struck a chord within me. That's because it wasn't just about the toy. It was about womanhood and the stereotypes and discrimination women face daily. It was about the right to sexual freedom. And the sadness that has stemmed from racism ( ie, native american barbie, hispanic barbie, etc). And honestly, I appreciated that. It was silly, sure. But it was also empowering. Why shouldn't Barbie be allowed to join the military? And if her and Ken want to switch heads and feel all ooey gooey about each other, more power to them. I think the use of inanimate objects to challenge the labels placed on women, on human beings in general, was a wise choice. And to choose an inanimate object which also functions as the pinnacle of girlhood by representing the "perfection" of womanhood was/is, in my opinion, absolutely brilliant. Because by showing the "perfection" of womanhood in these different lights, by showing the inconsistencies and struggles Barbie faces, is, on a smaller level, deconstructing womanhood as we have been raised to know it.
I think my favorite poems were the ones on race because they not only brought up the issue of racism on a general level, but they also brought up the issue of being a woman of color. I have found one of the hardest parts of being raised in the All-American-Blonde-Hair-Blue-Eyed society we live in is the pressure ethnic girls have to be more "white," from Abercombie and Fitch with their jeans that won't fit over a Hispanic girl's hips to the constant bombardment of television commercials for long silky hair that flows that African-American girls can't naturally have. But the black Barbie is made just like white Barbie, just with darker skin. And the same for Hispanic Barbie. And Native American Barbie, she doesn't even really exist. And when you take a step back, away from the poems and the other issues they point out, and honestly think about how all the Barbies look exactly alike just with different shades of skin, it makes you think, are they really trying to convey diversity or something more along the lines of creepy indistinguishability?

No comments: