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Thursday, October 19, 2006

Barbie doll discussed in India West Newspaper

Barbie Goes Indian with Diwali-themed Doll

By LISA TSERINGIndia-West Staff Reporter

The iconic Barbie doll sports Indian clothes and jewelry. In its "Dolls of the World" line, Mattel released the "Diwali Festival Doll" back in August but is now marketing the doll in time for holiday shopping.

A description of Diwali Barbie as it appears in Mattel's promotional materials reads, "The most important and magical festival celebrated in India is Diwali. Homes are decorated with marigolds and mango leaves, thousands of oil diyas or lamps are lit as auspicious symbols of good luck, and everyone enjoys sweets to the sound of firecrackers and revelers.

"Diwali Barbie doll wears a traditional teal sari with golden detailing, a lovely pink shawl wrap, and exotic jewelry. The final detail is a bindi on the forehead - a jewel or a mark worn by Hindu women to indicate that they are married. Doll cannot stand alone.

"Diwali Barbie is just one of dozens of themed, collectible Barbies created by Mattel. Other exotic variations include the Hawaiian Hula Honey, Swahili princess, Oktoberfest Barbie, and Brazilian Carnaval dolls.

Though likely to be embraced by little girls across the country, the doll has faced resistance from some more politically inclined grownups.

"If we wanted little Indian children running around and worshipping a disproportionately tall woman whose skin is unnaturally white and lives up to the standards of exotic in the West, we would point them all to Aishwarya Rai.

At least she does something," writes feminist blogger onebrownwoman.

A poster on noted that Barbie's costume is really more like "half a sari" - closer to a lehnga with chunari - and that her forehead ornament is a tikka, not a bindi. At the end of Mattel's product description, the caveat "Doll cannot stand alone" has also inspired snickers in the blog community.

"Thank you Barbie for reminding us that at the end of the day, no woman should really be able to stand alone. Especially not the exotic ones," writes onebrownwoman.

Responding to a reporter's comment that some were concerned about the message conveyed by Diwali Barbie's blue eyes and fair skin, a spokesperson for Mattel told India-West in an email Oct. 16, "Representing 45 nationalities and sold in more than 150 nations throughout the world, Barbie doll has shown girls that beauty is represented by a diversity of looks. "The Diwali(tm) Barbie(r) Doll is part of our Dolls of the World(tm) collection which celebrates various Festivals of the World(tm). There are several dolls in the collection this year including Chinese New Year Barbie(r) and Carnaval Barbie(r), each featuring beautiful costumes with intricate details that are associated with each festival."

Incidentally, this is not the first Indian Barbie to be released by Mattel. The company sold an Indian Princess Barbie in 2001, clad demurely in a head-to-toe pink silk sari, but the doll was discontinued.

:by indiawest


Anonymous said...

I've developed quite a fascination with Barbie over the last few months, with the creation of the Diwali Barbie. I've contemplated writing my thesis on it! I just wanted to say I'm glad to see this article here - it seems your site has just about every controversy and aspect of Barbie covered. And that's awesome!

Anonymous said...

India-born entrepreneurs empower US voters

Shukoor Ahmed ran for a seat in the Maryland House of Delegates in 1998, after coming to America a decade earlier from Hyderabad, India. Campaigning door-to-door, he was surprised so many voters did not know who represented them!

After his race ended slightly short of victory, he took advantage of his Master’s degree in Computer Technology and Political Science to build, a website he launched in 2001 to connect citizens and lawmakers. His website’s motto encapsulated its mission:

NOTE: I do not represent all of these photos as my own; these are photos of Barbie and other dolls that I find to be fabulous! If you are the actual photographer and would like to be credited, send me an e-mail.