On Sunday afternoon, we went to one of the big department stores that have sprouted all over Hyderabad over the past two years – I’m not kidding, this place is changing FAST.
First, we went to a music store and my 7-year-old ran straight to the DVD display and soon came to me with a Barbie movie in her hand… and a pleading look on her face.
Goodness, but I HATE Barbie! I would like to lit a bonfire and throw if not ALL the Barbies of the world, at least an enormous percentage – how about a good 50 per cent – of the white Barbie dolls in it and watch as all that sickly plastic melts into nothing.
Back to the music store: I tried to distract my daughter, to show her other movies – Hey, The Jungle Book is finally here! Remember the Jungle Book? Mowglie, Bagheera, the bare necessities of life? “This is for babies”, she said with a look of disdain on her face. Shame on me, but I sent her to see her father, knowing he’d probably buy it. My husband, the black guy in this family, doesn’t have, nor understands all my hang-ups about Barbie. And yeah, he bought it. And now, I hate myself. Let me add that we barely ever visit department stores. So, it’s not like this scene would happen every week, or even every month. And since we don’t receive any TV channel in our house – it’s a choice – the kids can only watch videos and DVDs carefully chosen… usually. Later, I did tell my daughter why I don’t like Barbie – in case she’d forgotten since my last rant on the subject – but even as I spoke, I tried to imagine what she might be thinking. “What is wrong with Mom? Why does she hate Barbie so much because she’s blond and has blue eyes? Mom is blond and she’s got blues eyes too. OK, her figure is not quite as shapely as Barbie’s, and she’s definitely older, but hey, Mom could be Barbie’s mom, maybe!” Oh, dear!
Then, we went to the areas where they have all the toys, and the nightmare continued. There were about eight shelves of toys, one for Fisher Price toys for babies, one for craft toys, play-doh, beads, etc, and the rest, all the other shelves that represented the whole toy display for the department store, had guess what ? Barbies!!! And guess some more ? Not ONE brown Barbie. There was one white Barbie with brown hair and brown eyes – WOW ! – and all the rest were the usual sickly display of blond, blue-wide-eyed Barbies being a teacher, to a blond child of course, being a veterinarian, etc. Even the dogs are blond, for Pete’s sake! And then Polly Pockets : same. All blond. We live in INDIA ! Where people have raven black hair, brown skin in all possible shades of brown, from very light to just as dark as any black person – some women and men, especially in the south where we live, have darker skins than my husband. What message does that send to all the children who look at these dolls and get them as presents, or they wouldn’t be there, right ? Even the Indian Barbies are basically as light as the white Barbie, only they wear saris.
Maybe we should just avoid department stores. I’m only hoping my daughters – the little one who is 3 has started to become interested in Barbie dolls, as well – will not ask one for Christmas. Or maybe I should order a brown one for each of them right now and have them sent to me. That way, I won’t be stuck, if/when the letter to Santa comes and it’s too late to order brown ones and have them delivered all the way to India.