Proud2Bme | Can Toys Really Play A Role In Your Self-Acceptance?

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Can Toys Really Play A Role In Your Self-Acceptance?

By Ashley Michelle Williams--Although I know it is little after the holidays, there is still something that happened in the toy aisle that I think should be addressed. It has to do with one of my favorite toys growing up: Barbie.

CNBC reported that the dolls were priced differently at Target, Wal-Mart and Toys R Us. In fact, they were priced differently in terms of the color of the dolls. However, in all instances, after media reports surfaced of the pricing, officials from the companies said the dolls would and should have been priced the same, regardless of their race and I agree.

How could you price dolls differently based on their color? What are these companies saying about skin color and race in our greater society? All companies said they did not intend for the price differences and I understand that glitches do happen. I just hope that this doesn't happen again.

These instances bring up larger concerns dealing with the perceptions of race in our society as well as the perceptions that one can develop about their race and body based on what society depicts or makes them believe.

The documentary, Dark Girls,  addressed this same idea. In one scene (around minute 2:20), when asked who is the smart and good-looking child, a little African-American girl points to an image of Caucasian child. When asked who is dumb and ugly, she points to the image of the African-American child. (A similar experiment was performed by social psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark in the late 1940's. This experiment showed the ways in which African-American children were psychologically and emotionally damaged by attending segregated schools and was later cited as a factor in determining the Brown vs. Board of Education ruling.)

I believe that many young people develop these notions and ideas of inferiority about their skin colors and bodies from playing with toys. They also develop these complexes based on their perceptions of what they are told is beautiful in their environments and our greater society. 

Studies and research have indicated that race often plays a role in the development of eating disorders within the minority community. For me personally, looking back, I believe my eating disorders were connected to racial issues. There was this constant comparison that I had about what made people seem beautiful to others. I often felt that since my body type was not the same as my Caucasian friends growing up, I was not beautiful. It was hard for me to accept my ethnicity and body due to these ideas of feeling inadequate and not being good enough. Thank God, however, over time and with help, I was able to accept myself for whom I am and accept my body.

My hope is that we as a society can begin to tackle these issues and situations in which toys or anything that deals with race is not priced different based on a race hierarchy. I think that when we begin to have more conversations on these issues and begin to really highlight these ideas about acceptance of differences and acceptance of beauty, then things will really positively change.

Do you agree?

About this blogger: Twenty-five-year-old Ashley M. Williams is the founder and CEO of RIZZARR! She is also a multimedia journalist. Whether she is traveling the world or highlighting today’s news coverage, Williams is deeply driven and enthusiastic about persistently using journalism and social media to inform and inspire others to initiate positive changes in the world.

For more on race and body positivity/ED:

Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat

The Color of Beauty: Is the Modeling Industry Colorblind?

Memo the the Fashion Industry: Using Diverse Models Increases your Sales

Hey Media: Not All Latinas Have Curves

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