My essay looked at the Barbie doll in relation to race, ethnicity and cultural appropriation from within the time period 1967-2016. In attempt of including more diversity within their Barbie range, Mattel have over the years, created different dolls representing different races, ethnicities and cultures. The dolls that have been released have been the subject of much criticism, much of which accuses Mattel of stereotyping and appropriation. I examined the materiality of the dolls, the marketing and the characterization produced by Mattel and also the appropriation made by the consumer. The design changes whilst at times showed some progression in terms of representation, presented more stereotypes and sometimes false information, especially regarding the traditions of the Native Americans.
For the publication, it was fun to turn the essay into a visual form especially since Barbie is such a global phenomenon and instantly recognisable. Working with Juhee from Visual Communications, we started to think about how to deconstruct Barbie as well as highlight the markers of culture race and ethnicity that the different Barbies had. We chose to use a Barbie box packaging style on one of the pages, as the boxes were key in showcasing the different accessories the Barbie came with. On the other page, Barbie is still recognisable but is without her long hair and is shown with different facial features. These reflect the design changes, and within this, the sculpted features that Mattel has created for its dolls.