If you’d like to pinpoint at least two things that make us love Mexican culture we’d have to say it is Frida Kahlo and Dia de Los Muertos. Both things perfectly embody the vibrancy and tradition of Mexican history and heritage.
Corporations, brands, etc., all understand the Mexican aesthetic and our attraction to it, or at least they think they do because Frida Kahlo and Dia de Los Muertos are appropriated and continuously exploited. We can’t necessarily blame them because we buy into it too. At least if it’s done correctly, and one needs to look no further than the success of Pixar’s “Coco.”
Now there’s a new venture into this tradition, and frankly, we’re not all that surprised.
Mattel is releasing a new Barbie with a Day of the Dead theme.
Right off the bat, the doll is stunning. She looks like a quintessential Mexican goddess and is in head-to-toe Day of the Dead attire. Her makeup is spot on, but her dress resembles more a flamenco dress, which is Spanish, not Mexican. We also love the subtle touch of green in her hair and a new take on the flower crown, which includes marigold flowers and monarch butterflies.
The Day of the Dead Barbie doll won’t be released for another month.
The doll, which retails at $75.99, is part of a new lie of Barbies with fan-favorite themes including Stars Wars characters, Princess Leia, Darth Vader, and R2-D2. There’s also a Rosa Parks Barbie, which was released yesterday to celebrate Women’s Equality Day. Mattel also released Barbies of other inspiring women astronaut Sally Ride and Pro-golfer Lorena Ochoa.
“Girls have always been able to play out different roles and careers with Barbie, and we are thrilled to shine a light on real-life role models to remind them that they can be anything,” Lisa McKnight, Senior Vice President And General Manager of Barbie, said in a statement to Time magazine.
While Mattel is making strides for having Barbie dolls that are more inclusive and realistic to young women today, they received a lot of backlash last year for their Frida Kahlo Barbie doll.
Critics said the doll was too picture-perfect and didn’t reflect the authentic way that Kahlo carried herself. Kahlo’s imperfections, including her unibrow and disabilities, were not reflected in the Barbie doll, which gave the impression that in order to be a Barbie, you have to be perfect.
In order to attract more sales from the general public, Mattel decided to release a line of dolls with a body-positive message that implied you don’t have to be skinny to be a Barbie.
The new collection of Barbies appeared with various body types, heights, skin tones, and hair textures. They also released a Barbie doll that wore a hijab. These changes are decades late, but we suppose it is better late than never?
Mattell seemed only to make the Barbie doll more inclusive to diversity and body-positivity until their sales started plummeting. When they released parents weren’t buying Barbie dolls because they didn’t personify their kid, or anyone for that matter, and were turning to alternative toys, they changed up their whole game plan.
In a 2016 exposé on Barbie, and their company changes for dolls, one mom that was part of Mattel’s focus group said that “If a black woman or a redheaded woman or a heavyset woman had shown up, my daughter would have been like, ‘Where’s Barbie?’”
Evelyn Mazzocco, head of the Barbie brand, admittedly said back then, “Yes, some people will say we are late to the game. But changes at a huge corporation take time.”
With Mattel’s new Day of the Dead Barbie, not everyone on social media is thrilled to see another Mexican tradition attracting to the corporate dollar.
Some see this new Barbie doll as an exploitive move that is only geared at taking from Mexican culture and make billions in sales. Is it actually worth it?
Mexican culture is celebrated while the government continues to oppress Latinos.
We’re all for celebrating our culture, but it should also be addressed that our government continues to oppress Latinos to no end. It’s kind of ironic that corporate America loves to bask in Mexican culture yet will fund racist leadership.