Thursday, November 13, 2008


I came across some images of these dolls while doing a Google search for a presentation on the media's effect on gender role development and it all came back to me. I remember walking through the crowded, narrow streets of the Old City of Jerusalem with merchandise in your face at every turn and I remembered being puzzled by the Fulla doll. Here we have your typical American Barbie doll, except she is dressed in Muslim garb, including a modest dress and a head covering. These were sold all over the place, but what really got me is that about half of the ones I saw in stores and on corners were blonde. Half. If you think that half of little Muslim girls are blonde, you are dead wrong. This means that many Arab girls are valuing Western looks, even to the point of wanting a doll with their religious ideals, but someone else's looks. I don not know what the exact sales figures are for white vs arab dolls, but this is just what I saw. At school we talk a lot about the global media and how internet and communication miracles are contributing to a global culture, and I think it is fair to say that some of these girls have been entransed by the glamorous Western women that they see on TV and in movies and that there is something coming across to them that these women are somehow more pretty or superior to them. Now, I had a black cabbage patch doll and a hispanic American Girl doll and I think this was awesome. However, I loved my Josephina doll, for example, because I thought her cultural clothing and story were so interesting. I have all of the Mexican goods to go along with her. White Fulla dolls, however, are literally replacing darker-skinned Fulla dolls by putting on the traditional clothes of a Muslim while still looking American. Something else is going on here. I don't really have an answer, but I think that we all need to be proud of our heritage and be able to celebrate the religious or geographical culture of others without trying to bash our own at the same time or replacing our ideals with other's that some in the world feel are somehow more acceptable. I hope that these little girls know that they are beautiful and that they can celebrate who they are and not feel pressure to live up to a Western view of beauty that is mere convention.


Hayley said...

I found your blog! I love the dolls. Somehow, I missed them in Jerusalem! Now I want to buy one, but I'd buy one with dark hair.

Rebekah said...

I had Josefina, too! I loved (and still love) her. I also add Addy and an Oriental doll. My (rather racist) grandma didn't approve of Addy.