Shani And The Politics Of Plastic Analysis

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Manufacturers of consumer goods play into racialized and gendered preferences for their products, while also generating consumer desires. On the production and marketing of differences, similarities, role models, and both looking-like-me and looking-unlike-me experiences, through toys and games. In this article, Ann DuCille analyzes the past and present ways in which Mattel presents race and gender through the iconic Barbie doll. Barbie could be seen as a female representation of personal and financial independence, and professional success. She has been a World Cup soccer champion, an astronaut, a doctor, and even a head of state. Barbie has become an ideal icon for little girls to become anything they want to be. In the same breath…show more content…
She included a study conducted by black psychologists, who together were known as ‘The Clarks’, and it showed that 70 percent of the black children used in the study chose a white doll when given the choice between a white doll and a black doll. This lead to deeper thought and discussion from scholars all over, surrounding the issue of race and segregation and self-esteem. From both children and adults, there was always this notion that a black Barbie was the “other” or “alternative” Barbie doll. This idea was enforced through the signature Barbie dolls on billboards, boxes, clothing, games, and everything else Barbie was featured on, with white skin, blonde hair, and blue eyes. DuCille even brought up a conversation she had with an African American mother who stated that her daughter had been “happily playing with black dolls since she was two, but lately wanted to know why she can’t have a white doll, a real Barbie.” This further proved the notion that many people consider black Barbie dolls as the…show more content…
The package which contained the Shani doll boasted about how Shani means marvelous in Swahili and how each of the black dolls in the collection showed the beauty of the African American woman. It also suggested that each doll had a different hair color and texture, perfect for braiding and their clothes highlighted ethnic and exotic looks. DuCille began to break down the false promises made by Mattel, from the more-but-not-so “natural” hair, all the way down to the dimensions of the supposedly “full-figured” black doll. Mattel even attempted to make the buttocks of the Shani dolls appear larger than that of a white Barbie doll. This allowed DuCille to make the connection between the Shani dolls apparently “larger buttocks”, and the buttocks being the signifier of black female

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