Everyday people are swept with various images everywhere they turn. To some, many of these images seem creative, entertaining, and admirable. However, a wide variety of these images have determined where a certain mass of people fit in society as well as what they are worth. In the 19th century, the famous image of the Gibson girl was seen everywhere. This image was a caricature of “the feminine ideal of beauty.” By this image constantly being placed in various places around the world, women began to subconsciously believe that they were suppose to emulate the gracefulness and beauty of an imaginative woman. In addition to the Gibson girl being a bare black and white image, she was also drawn by none other than Charles Dana Gibson. A man drew the “perfect” woman. But how can a man know what a perfect woman is if he hasn’t experienced the hardships that women have to go through to be “perfect.”
People have expressed what their beliefs on what certain ethnic groups are worth and what they are capable of. In the 21st century, certain images like Barbie dolls or cereal boxes have elaborated how certain ethnic groups are valued. Two years ago Wal-Mart released a Ballerina doll. Of course like all dolls, they came in different races but they all had on the same dresses, the same shoes, the same hairstyles, and the same false smile. However, one of them was priced lower. Can you guess which one that is? If you said it was the Black ballerina doll, you are absolutely correct.
In the image above, the Black ballerina doll was priced at $3.00 while the White doll was priced at $5.93; nearly $6.00. That’s a (or nearly) $3.00 difference from the price of the Black doll to the White doll. What isn’t shown in this picture is that the Hispanic doll is the same price as the White doll. Now why would Wal-Mart lower the price of the Black doll and not the others? If an item isn’t selling, then the entire stock of items should be priced low, not just one color. Of course we know that throughout history American society has deemed Black as an repugnant color. However, what does this tell little Black girls who are supposedly living in a modern society about the way her beauty is valued?
Another doll that has sparked a lot of controversy is the Dr.Barbie. Dr.Barbie is of course a medical doctor. However, this doctor Barbie in particular is Black. The controversy isn’t because she is Black, that’s actually a really great and inspiring thing, but due to the fact of who she is caring for.
Yes, Dr. Barbie is caring for a White baby. We are all familiar with the Mammy figure; a Black woman taking care of White children. And we all know that it has taken women decades to even be considered or taken seriously as doctors, especially Black women. Of course doctors are supposed to be impartial and take care of whomever needs it, but this doll has become a modern-day Mammy. It is important for little Black girls to see dolls that represent something positive. However, the positive image that Dr. Barbie brings is taken away when she is placed back 500 years. It is rare, to see a White Dr. Barbie taken care of a Black baby although, this particular Dr. Barbie does have a White doctor taking care of a Black baby (not shown in image). What Mattel tried to do was give Dr.Barbie different ethnic babies so that young girls can focus on the imagination of taking care of someone else. However, this doll still brings up a lot of controversy because of the symbolic reference that it brings up.
The last image that seems to pollute a child’s mind is the Chex cereal boxes.Chex has came out with different flavors to their cereal. However, nobody is really paying attention to the flavors, they’re paying attention to the characters on the boxes.
The wheat chex seems to have an Hispanic woman on it, while the corn chex seems to have a hispanic or black woman on it. They chocolate Chex has a BLONDE HAIR White woman on it and the cinnamon box has a Black man on it. There are several things wrong with these images. For one, why does the women on the corn and wheat box appear to be Hispanic? There is a cultural stereotype i those images due to the fact, stereotypically, Hispanics are depicted as sharecroppers of wheat and corn. Secondly, why does the chocolate box have a white woman on it? I know you are familiar with the King Kong movies. Remember how much controversy that movie received because King Kong fell in love with a blonde hair, blue eyes, white woman and hated the Black women. King Kong was a Black gorilla, who hated Black people, but fell in love with a White woman. Well, the chocolate box has a King Kong resemblance. Chocolate Chex, White woman? The most troublesome box of them all is the Cinnamon box. We all know that Cinnamon is a brown color. So why did Chex have to place a Black man on the cinnamon box?
Each of these images, from the dolls to the cereal, penetrate the minds of children. Although children may not realize that what they are seeing is an unconscious form of racism, ethnic ignorance, or stereotyping, these images will play a major role in how children see themselves and others.