By Aimee Villalpando |Staff Writer|
The Mexico Barbie from Mattel’s “Dolls of the World” collection raised eyebrows when she debuted in a pink ruffle dress that included a passport and small Chihuahua.
The initial purpose of “Dolls of the World” was “to celebrate cultural differences and tradition, introducing girls to the world through play,” said Mattel in a statement released to The Huffington Post.
However, concerns regarding outdated stereotypes falsely portraying “traditional” Mexican culture have been increasingly expressed with the release of this line of dolls.
All dolls were accompanied by a “furry friend” and a passport.
Yet the animal chosen for the Mexico doll has sparked backlash as members of the Mexican-American community believe it is not historically accurate.
Additionally, the passport strikes a nerve with some at this time when immigration reform is at a critical stage.
“It is a point of contention and great sensitivity for people of Mexican origin, especially Mexican immigrants,” explained Jason Ruiz, an American studies professor at Notre Dame University.
“Papers decide everything for immigrants from Mexico.”
Ruiz spoke of the issue on Good Morning America, while he claimed he was not offended by the doll, he said, “It sounds to me like Mattel took some shortcuts. The bright pink ribbons? A Chihuahua? That kind of stuff is so easy to use. … [Mexican Americans] are tired of being seen as merely colorful.”
Some have dismissed the issue as not controversial, and believe it was blown out of proportion.
SpanglishBaby.com blogger Ana Flores wrote to NBC and said ‘exploding over a Mexican Barbie having a passport and associating that with illegal immigration is taking it a bit too far.’
She continued, “I don’t rely on dolls to teach my daughter accurate culture or history — that’s what books, conversations, travels and real-life cultural events are for.”
Flores even wrote to the network via email and added, “I actually applaud Mattel for having this collection that can serve as a starting point for our girls to have a wide range of options to choose from.”
Mattel has always introduced a series of Barbie collections in a tasteful and, at times, even educational manner to adolescent girls.
According to Time Magazine, Mattel responded to concerns by clarifying that, “each doll wears an ensemble inspired by the traditional costume and fashion of the country … We consulted with the Mexican Embassy on the Dolls of the World Mexico Barbie, especially with respect to the selection of the Chihuahua.”
CSUSB student Shadya Qasem expressed similar sentiments, “I can consider how some would find the passport ordeal offensive to those in the Mexican community if it were the only doll including one in the particular collection, however, it is not.
“I highly doubt that their motive was to insult this time,” added Qasem.
Still, many maintain their critical perspective and insist the doll is not acceptable.
“I think a lot of people would like to pretend that there is no more racism and that people are not facing barriers because of their background or their culture,” said Claudya Martinez, a writer for website MamásLatinas.
“If you happen to be one of the cultures who is continuously bombarded with stereotypes, it’s hard not to notice that the progress you thought had been made has been taken for granted,” said Martinez in a statement to ABCNews.com.
“We’re raising multicultural children in the United States; we’re all part of the cultural fabric. To reduce us to something that easy to digest in a bite just oversimplifies who we are,” said Martinez.
As this controversial issue continues to escalate, there is no indication that any actions will be taken to reverse feelings of racial insensitivity.