While reading Banu Subramaniam's Snow Brown and the Seven Detergents I began to think about how white America constructs and enforces these ideas that one must "wash away" their cultural identity to fit into an ideal American stereotype. Even as we claim to be a melting pot of diversity, we still expect everyone to meet patriarchal norms in terms of language, appearance, and even knowledge. I believe that this reinforcement starts very young and can even spawn from the toys that we are given as children. Naturally I turned to the always demonized and yet oh so popular female figure, Barbie. While she is commonly attached for her unrealistic dimensions and inferior career choices, I would like to look beyond that. While researching Barbie's illustrious history I was struck by the fact that only last year did Mattel design a "black Barbie" ( yes that is her actual title) that actually fit the standard body type and facial characteristics of African American women. Mattel released "colored" Francie in 1967 she was from the same mold as Barbie, meaning she had white facial characteristics and a white body shape. She was an exact replica of Barbie just made out of darker plastic. My question to you is how do toys help reinforce cultural molds and the loss of ethnic culture?
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