As part of its Dolls of the World line, Mattel toy company introduced a new Mexico Barbie. The doll with long, dark, wavy hair dons a frilly fiesta dress trimmed with lace and colorful ribbons. She comes with a pet chihuahua tucked under her arm and her own passport.
Mexico Barbie, which sells for $29.95, is meant to teach girls “about the culture, traditions and ancestral dress of Mexico,” according to Mattel’s description. But some critics say that instead she’s bolstering Mexican cultural stereotypes.
“It sounds to me like Mattel took some shortcuts,” Jason Ruiz, a professor of American studies at Notre Dame University in South Bend, Ind., told Good Morning America. “The bright pink ribbons? A Chihuahua? That kind of stuff is so easy to use.”
Claudya Martinez, a writer for the online community of Latina women MamásLatinas, told ABCNews.com that the passport seems “jarring given the politically charged discussions of immigration politics in the United States.”
“It’s disappointing when it’s an opportunity for a toy company to reach out and represent different cultures,” Martinez added.
Barbie introduced the Dolls of the World line in 1980 and the Mexico Barbie, which was originally released late last year but is just getting media attention, is in its fourth edition. All of the newest Dolls of the World Barbies are meant to look more modern and come with with a pet friend; India carries a monkey, Holland a bunny, China a panda, Australia a koala. The girls are also all equipped with a passport.
But Evette Dionne at ClutchMagOnline.com thinks the passports are a bad idea. She writes:
Including a passport isolates the Mexican, Indian and other “cultural” Barbies instead of promoting an inclusive America. A native-country flag would’ve been a reasonable alternative, but Mattel seems to be selling controversy this month.
In light of the criticism, Mattel defended its line and the Mexico doll in a statement.
Each doll wears an ensemble inspired by the traditional costume and fashion of the country. … We consulted with the Mexican Embassy on the Dolls of the World Mexico Barbie, especially with respect to the selection of the Chihuahua. Our goal with the Dolls of the World Mexico Barbie, as well as the entire Dolls of the World Collection, is to celebrate cultural differences and tradition, introducing girls to the world through play
Not all members of the Latina community are outraged. Over at Babble, parenting blogger Yolanda Machado wrote:
The dolls are not meant to be a depiction of a culture, but rather, a way to begin to introduce other cultures and countries to young children. It’s a beginning of a topic, not the entire thesis. I actually applaud Mattel for trying to open the conversation between parents and their children not just about one culture, but many.
What do you think? Is Mexico Barbie offensive?
Mexico Barbie isn’t the first doll to stir up controversy. Here’s a look at the most talked-about Barbies.