Black or White Barbie doll...take your pick

Posted by James, 19 Feb 07

The other day while doing the usual – having a mental block… thinking hard of what to write about, I received an email from a friend with the above video. So I watched it and it hit me as pretty powerful...that’s when it crossed me... :idea: What if this test were to be done on white children? Would it have elicited the same kind of results?

Come to think of it, the white doll might always appear beautiful to a lot of kids given the huge marketing campaigns to promote Barbie and other white dolls – the very long hair, flashy clothes and makeup (am sure you all have noticed the red lipstick). Is the mind of a child a clean slate... one that hasn't yet been corrupted by racial discrimination?

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So I wondered… if the test was be done on grown ups what would the results be like? For instance if I direct the question to you now, which doll would you have picked and why?

15 responses to "Black or White Barbie doll...take your pick"

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  1.   renee24 says:
    Posted: 05 Aug 09

    very interesting!!! As parents, aunts, uncle,cousins, brothers and sisters, we need to teach our children that their skin color is beautiful and we are all equal. Sad to say I can believe that this is still going on 50 years later. Just a little story as a child growing up I had two older siblings and a mother who worked very hard (my parents are divorced), my mother would always try to give us the best and she did even though we did not have material things we had LOVE, whenever she was able I got a doll I would always be so excited to pick her out but when we arrived at the store the black dolls were never in stock,(I wanted a face like mine)On day we went looking for a male doll when we got there all the male dolls were sold out but get this they had a mc hammer doll in his trade mark purple genie pants and jacket my mom got me that lol he also had the glasses and a mic.

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  2.   fire321 says:
    Posted: 01 Aug 09

    My daughter had similar reactions to the black doll/white doll scenario. She's 12 now but when she was younger, she did not want black dolls because she thought they weren't as pretty as the the white dolls. I as a parent refused to buy white dolls because I wanted my daughter to see the beauty of the black dolls in herself. At the time she didn't understand why she preferred the white dolls but now that she's older, she has a better understanding. I taught her that no matter what someone says about her dark skin, she's just as (if not more) beautiful as any white girl. Believe me, she thinks she's fine as hell now...and I love that.

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  3. Posted: 30 Apr 09

    When I was little I read all of the American Girl books and I wanted the black doll Addy. My mother asked me if I wanted one that looked more like me, but I told her no, Addy never gave up. Her story was my favorite one and I looked up to her the most. I didn't relate to the dolls because of the way they looked, I was influenced by what their stories taught. I carried Addy everywhere and I didn't notice it at the time, but our family got strange looks when we went out because a white girl was carrying a black baby doll. When I found that out I was truly puzzled. All I saw was a pretty doll that I loved.

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  4.   Cibal09 says:
    Posted: 23 Apr 09

    I love to tell this story. When my granddaughter was about 5, I took her shopping for a doll. We were looking at the Barbie-type dolls and I kept trying to get her to pick the black one, but she wanted the white one. There was a white lady standing next to us watching the whole thing play out. Finally, my granddaughter said: Mom-mom, it doesn't matter if the doll is caucasian." The lady gave me this "now what" look and I told my granddaughter to pick the one she wanted. All this to say that my children and grandchildren are all free-thinkers. No racism or bigotry is allowed in my household and my family gatherings look like a meeting at the United Nations. It's what you teach your children and how much self-love and pride you instill in them. If you teach them not to listen to the media or what anyone else tells them, but to make their own choices based on what they know is right, they will do so (hopefully). If you let them be themselves and define themselves as what they believe is beautiful, they will. Like Big Mama said, "it's just a doll". Let the children play and teach them the right way to live and love in this world. It's hard enough for them than to have them thinking their wrong for wanting to play with a white doll. After all, I like to play with white boys :-)) (oh boy, I hope I don't get beat up for saying that).................

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  5.   Member says:
    Posted: 18 Jun 08

    As a child growing up. I had my share of alot of dolls. I never look at color. Or which one i liked best over the other. I just wanted to learn how to style hair and make clothes. Today i have over 60 different Barbie Dolls, that are collector's items. And when i have the time, I teach young girls in my neighborhood how to sew and use a sewing machine. And to reweave their hair when it starts balding. To me it's about taking a negetive. Turning it around, and doing something positive. I teach the girls that it's just a doll. It's not something for them to base there body types after. Or to have low self esteem because of it. But instead I want them to look to their parents as positive roll models. Not A Barbie Doll!

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  6. Posted: 26 May 08

    I just had to comment on this subject: If I had to choose the white or black Barbie doll, it would be neither because they are just ugliest toys ever made.

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  7.   daisy says:
    Posted: 20 Feb 08

    I would like to take the time to thank ***blackcentury.com*** for the wonderful service they have provided. I met my husband through the site 1 year ago, we were two people of different cultures and countries. Yet, because of this great website we were brought together after finding love. Maybe you will love it.

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  8.   pbs86 says:
    Posted: 19 Feb 08

    I've had both dolls, but I played with the black dolls the most. If I had to choose today I would still choose my black dolls over the white ones, because I can relate to black dolls. I can't relate to barbie and her blonde hair and blue eyes.

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  9.   pbs86 says:
    Posted: 19 Feb 08

    Why would this test be done one white children, when the black girl who did this test wanted to see if self-hatred in the black community among children was still an issue? Those little kids have to deal with a biased media that tells them if they aren't white their ass is ugly. They also have to deal with self-hating parents who talk down to them, and tell them they are worthless or look to "black". This type of mess is still going strong in the black community, and for any asshole who finds this funny then I hope you never bitch when it happens to your kids. I feel sorry for these kids, because they are struggling to find self-worth and acceptance. They believe black is bad and ugly, and white is good and pure. Yes parents should do their jobs, but there should be more positive images out there that these kids can relate to. Whether it be in dolls, magazines, or movies it should show the range of beauty seen in black children.

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  10.   pbs86 says:
    Posted: 19 Feb 08

    I don't see a damn thing funny about self-hate.

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  11.   Fran says:
    Posted: 28 Oct 07

    Has this test ever been done on white children? If so- what was the outcome?

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  12.   Ralf says:
    Posted: 28 Feb 07

    Well, the documentary is hilarious. Do the results change with age? Can someone get a cam-corder (quick), and ask the parents of those kids the same question? Blame the parents. Media is biased yes, but parents must know their fundamental duty, in an unhealthy socio-psycho-economic structure. But if the parents themselves would choose those dolls (which is my hypothesis-someone prove me wrong, please)-then how can the child think different? GIGO.

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  13.   Storm72 says:
    Posted: 22 Feb 07

    I am black and I grew up in a very white community. I had Barbie dolls of both colors and I thought they were both pretty. I actually preferred the black Barbie because I related to her more than the white ones. (And my mother always used to accuse me of trying to be white. She still does sometimes!) But when a new Barbie came out I always looked for the black one. I even wanted the black family Barbie dolls--and I was surrounded by white families. My friends who are white and have little girls want their girls to have both types of dolls. When I buy action figures for my son I make sure he has both black and white super heroes!! This documentary definately hurts. But it has also made me want to ensure that all children--girls and boys, no matter what color they are know that no matter what color the doll is, both of them are good and beautiful just as they/we are. Both of those dolls looked the same, except for their color. So you can't say black dolls are ugly or hideous. And just to point out, I am 34 years old. I had my first black baby dolls when I was 3 years old and I loved both of them. I had white and black Barbies from the ages of 6 to 12. We all have to set the example for our children. It starts with US!!

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  14.   prezz says:
    Posted: 20 Feb 07

    This is a tricky one. That distinction even in dolls makes one ask why? Having read most comments from other readers on other blogs on this test, I have realized that most of them are black and detested the fact that the kids chose the white doll. A doll is a doll. And truth is it doesnt really matter. I think its a bit unfair that this test was conducted on children coz sincerely speaking, what did we expect the outcome would have been? Kids have no idea what their identity is. So they will tend to use the visual aspects more. The doll test on kids if you ask me really proves nothing!!! Its just arousing some racist emotions for nothing.

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  15.   qween says:
    Posted: 19 Feb 07

    I am black. Not that it matters anyway. This is just for the sake of the discussion. If I were to make the choice now, old as I am, I still would have picked the white doll. I know who I am and am comfortable with my identity. I am a strong black woman. Lets call a spade a spade, black dolls are hideous especially when put next to the white doll. I dont think those kids are to blame. Its the companies that make the dolls that should. Kids love gorgeous things. So if you put a shabbily dressed black doll and a princess like Barbie doll next to each other, what do expect? If the test was to be done on white kids, the results would have been the same

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