Five –year-old Georgia Braithwaite wanted a Barbie party for her birthday complete with Barbie plates, cups and napkins. However, there was a catch. Georgia is African American and when her mother Karen Greene Braithwaite searched on the internet for black Barbie party supplies she found none.
“The first African-American doll, Christie, strutted onto the scene in 1968, and Mattel, Barbie’s manufacturer, features Barbies representing more than 45 nationalities. Were they leaving these dozens of groups out of its Barbie-themed party supplies, which seem to focus only on the classic blue-eyed, buxum blonde?
Braithwaite found herself telling a white lie to Georgia, proud owner of at least six black Barbie dolls. “It was a little embarrassing for Mommy,” says Braithwaite, a human-resources manager who lives in Harlem. “I said, ‘Oh, Mommy clicked on the wrong thing.’ She was starting to get upset. I told her that I’d find it, but I started realizing that it may not exist….”
“So last month, Braithwaite posted a petition on Change.org asking people to request that Mattel endorse party supplies “featuring Barbies of color.” She recorded an adorable video featuring Georgia (in which her 2-year-old brother has a photobomb cameo) and has collected more than 3,400 signers.”
“On Mattel’s social media page, the company tweeted two replies to people who brought the issue to their attention: “We work closely with our partners to develop and distribute Barbie products such as party supplies,” and “We will be sharing your valuable feedback with them to start conversations and evaluate the business.” Mattel has reached out to Braithwaite, according to company spokesman Alan Hilowitz, but has not yet spoken with her.”
I personally think this is a reasonable request to have party supplies for Barbies of color. Now maybe Party City doesn’t carry them but maybe you can special order them from Mattel. I think if Mattel wants children of color to buy their toys and play with them they should represent these children across their product lines.
When my girls were little my mother was a little bit obsessed with buying them slightly Asian-looking dolls to match their quarter-Filipino appearance. She worked really hard at finding dolls that weren’t black but weren’t white. She loves American Girl because she could find dolls that looked mixed just like our kids.
Do you think it’s reasonable for Mattel to offer parties supply to represent Barbies of color? Do you try to buy dolls of color to match your kids? Do you kids mind playing with dolls that don’t match? Have you ever colored in supplies or dolls to look like your race or ethnicity?