We'll let Vogue do the talking on this one:
Barbie has scored a starring role in Vogue Italia's most iconic edition; the Black Issue, as the magazine styles the iconic doll in a collector's supplement. In July 2008, Franca Sozzani, editor-in-chief of Vogue Italia, conceived the first Black Issue, starring models including Iman, Naomi Campbell, Liya Kebede, Sessilee Lopez and Jourdan Dunn - with the intention of sending a message to the fashion world about the importance of diversity in fashion.
"Barbie has been an icon for whole generations which is why I really wanted to give a strong sign in step with the times, and dedicate the anniversary issue to Black Barbie," Sozzani said.
The first black doll from Barbie was introduced in 1967, as a friend of Barbie called Francie, followed by the first "Black Barbie" doll, introduced in 1980. The trend continues this autumn with the launch of a collection of black Barbie dolls, called the So In Style dolls; which have been designed with more authentic-looking black features, including a new facial sculpt that has fuller lips, a wider nose, more distinctive cheek bones and curlier hair.
"Barbie has been a mirror of the times for 50 years and continues to reflect the trends and interests of the day," Richard Dickson, senior vice president of Barbie said."
We've said it before and we'll say it again: it's good that Vogue wants to recognize the presence and importance of black people in the fashion industry, but it's depressingly retrograde that they even have to publish something called "The Black Issue" at all.
Now, this may surprise some of you, but we have never been little black girls, so we can't really offer a knowledgeable opinion about whether the new black Barbies are a good thing. From our position of ignorance and privilege, it certainly seems so to us. What little knowledge we have of previous black Barbies is that they looked like white Barbies dipped in chocolate. It's a good thing that not only do the new models have ethnically appropriate features, but (and this is where we really think they got it right) they come in a range of skin tones. Little black girls - wait, let's amend that - ALL little girls should not grow up thinking that "pretty" means "blonde and white" only.
The pictures are fun (we especially like the Diana Ross-esque one) but not to get all politically correct or anything, didn't anyone in Vogue's offices question whether a feature on black Barbies should feature so much lingerie and fetish-wear? It's always been something of an issue that black people are too often depicted as overly sexualized in the media; exotic creatures just dripping with sexuality and jungle fever. They should have stuck with the more fashion-inspired looks. Still, it's a fun and glamorous piece and their intentions are good.
Post a Comment