Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Somewhere Pecola Breedlove is Crying

I feel inspired by Black Snob's post this morning, On Black Girls, Beauty, and Barbie Dolls. Go read it. You'll be moved, I promise. It was prompted by recent news that advertisers, in response to the popularity and adorable-ness of Sasha and Malia Obama, or the WeeMichelles as they are called over at Michelle Obama Watch, want cute little brown girls for their campaigns and that modeling agencies are scrambling to meet the demand. One agency rep offered this explanation for their lack of diversity:

Marlene Wallach, president of Wilhelmina Kids & Teens, says the First Daughters are tough subjects to match. “It’s a very specific age and a very specific ethnicity, so there aren’t that many girls that would necessarily fit the bill.”

WTF? One doesn't even know where to begin with is. Should we first point out there really isn't anything exotic at all about the "specific ethnicity" of Sasha and Malia? Are there any black people whose family has been here for more than a generation who aren't some crazy mixture of African and European blood? Should we point out that beautiful black girlhood looks like Malia and Sasha but also like Kyla Pratt and Keke Palmer and Willow Smith? Or do we simply point out that this woman clearly has never actually seen little black girls?

In the age of the Obama, when so many things seem possible, this is the kind of thing that keeps me awake at night. That people won't see my beautiful black girls, or that people will see them but will read their existence as some sort of aberration. I don't want my girls to be invisible or rare birds. I just want them to be.

4 comments:

Evelyn said...

Thanks so much for the link to this article and thanks for your blog. I saw it in the paper and have been an avid reader since.

claire said...

And what does "very specific ethnicity" even mean? Is she making some claim that black dolls are niche and therefore a small market (ridiculous) or that the Obama girls represent only girls with a black mother a black father, a black grandmother, a white grandmother, a black grandfather and a black grandfather? Are we back in some doll version of one drop rules read backwards??

Conseula said...

Claire--

I think she's saying it will be hard to find models for ad campaigns who have the Obama girls' look because they have a "very specific ethnicity," which of course is crazy because they look exactly like practically every other little black girl in the country.

Conseula said...

Claire--

I think she's saying it will be hard to find models for ad campaigns who have the Obama girls' look because they have a "very specific ethnicity," which of course is crazy because they look exactly like practically every other little black girl in the country.