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Last March, American toy maker Mattel closed its first flagship Barbie store — the House of Barbie — in Shanghai after two years struggling since opening in The concept was that Barbie is not just a fashion forward doll, she would also be a lifestyle symbol and cultural icon for girls and young women. When I first bought a Barbie doll for my niece about ten years ago, I was surprised to find out that she already had a couple of them.
Somewhere in a considerably ulu part of Singapore, a man owns the largest collection of Barbie dolls in Asia. Jian Yang describes himself as a grown up who still loves playing with his toys. With over 10, dolls sprawled all over the place, it was truly a marvel to step into his house. The first Barbie doll he ever received was inwhen he was just four years old, and it was the workout Barbie, rocking that s activewear.
A ragtag group of regulars lived in my Barbie Dreamhouse. The leader of the pack was a Disney Matchmaker Magic Mulan doll, who wore a reversible dynastic outfit and had a face that turned white when you dabbed it with water. Eventually, her face froze that way.
The Barbie that is unmistakenly Asian. I question the purpose of striving for a Barbie collection that realistically portrays the diverse population of young girls and women. She finds grievance in Asian Barbie not having a curvy version, and maintains the stereotype of the thin, svelte Asian woman.
The question is since when did dolls stop being for fun and start providing life lessons to children? When I was around 10 years old, I had the entire range of Barbie dolls available in the market. After butchering the hair of two of the dolls and decapitating another one, I kept all the dolls in a cupboard.
Releasing a line of Barbie dolls — a mass-produced plastic toy with traditionally European features not known for detailed craft — fashioned in the image of BTS, a beloved, stylish Korean boy-band known for a militant fan 'Army' that keeps hawk-eyed tabs on any disrespect or misinterpretation of their K-pop kings: what could possibly go wrong? This detail showed promise: that's the kind of work ethic and attention to detail the Army embodies and demands. The company unveiled the dolls online today. V, Jungkook, Jimin, Jin, RM, Suga and J-Hope have been immortalized in plastic wearing handsome, colorful, funky-print suits and classic white kicks inspired by their looks in the "Idol" music video replete with angelic pink lips, and shiny plastic coifs.
You may have gathered from my posts so far that I like diversity in my collections, I celebrate differences. I love to add dolls of different ethnicities, age groups and genders. As a kid, I was rapt to find Quick Curl Cara and Hawaiian Barbie to add some new ethnicities to my doll play, but they were really the only non-blonde dolls available to add back then.
Curvy, petite, tall and original — using the hashtag TheDollEvolves, Mattel announced its release of three new body types for their Barbie brand dolls last Thursday. Perhaps the most unifying force was the perception that everyday Americans saw them as the same Oriental Barbie is largely a product of her time — a period when Asian American issues were just being heard. Anyaha simnika!