What’s So Great About a Doll Called Barbie?

Extra Salty

13-11-2023 • 50 mins

Amrita Ghosh and Bhakti Shringarpure tackle South Asia’s new fixation: a busty, blue-eyed, blond doll named Barbie. A recent blockbuster American movie about this famous doll has had South Asians swooning over Barbie and showing up swathed in pink at movie theaters, all the while claiming to be smashing the patriarchy! But this fair and lovely doll was not particularly popular when toy giant Mattel launched her in the region in the late eighties. Pakistani writer and journalist Bina Shah weighs in on the class and gender politics around this expensive toy, and critiques the politics of white feminism that has recently sprung up around Barbie. The three ask if there are toys that can instill progressive values in young minds and whether dolls can ever teach us anything other than gender stereotypes.

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