Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Race/ethnicities in a world designed for young Caucasian girls?

Webster’s dictionary defines ethnicity as “ethnic quality or affiliation or a particular ethnic affiliation or group.” Race typically is grouped with the work ethnicity. Race is the color of one’s skin while ethnicity is the place where that particular person or person’s ancestors came from. An example of race would be calling me white while an example of ethnicity would be that I am German. Many people want to categorize others just based on their appearance (race) which is hard to do. I personally feel that categorizing someone based on their race rather than asking them their ethnicity is unfair.

I am going to discuss my experiences with race in Barbie World since virtually I cannot explain other avatars ethnicities based on their avatars. When entering Barbie World you can other choose very pale to very dark skin. Overall, you can either be white or black in Barbie World which excludes many other ethnicities like Hispanic, Asian, and Middle Eastern. I think this virtual world excludes other little girls from having an avatar to identify with. Characteristics of other ethnicities are left out in this virtual world and basically the only thing you can adjust is skin color. Over all, other races are not included in this virtual world and I think this can relate to their target audience. When Barbie was first created the target audience was particularly young Caucasian girls. Over the years though Barbie has created a lot of different dolls including a black, Hispanic, and oriental Barbie. I really don’t understand why they are not incorporating these ethnicities into their virtual world. It’s not fair for little girls who are oriental or Hispanic who want to be involved in Virtual Barbie. Like I said in my Identity post with little boys not having avatars to identify with the same goes for little girls of ethnicities other than Caucasian and African America. It is nice that Barbie World allows the gamer to adjust their skin tone and that not every avatar has to be white but I think it would be nice if they included other ethnicities of avatars just like they created other ethnicities of Barbie’s over the years.

This made me think of white & black in our culture. Yes, these two races are the two races that are mostly discussed/considered in our culture. I honestly never see many television shows or read many stories including Hispanic or Middle Eastern people without negative connotations attached to them. Is the negative social stigmas attached to Hispanic and Middle Eastern people hindering them from prospering and living joyful lives here in America? Who created these negative connotations in the first place and is the reason why they are not included in this virtual world is because they are frowned upon/viewed in a negative light in our country? While adventuring around Barbie World I thought how cool it would be to be able to interact with Barbie avatars of all different ethnicites and to communicate with people all over the world. I think having more diverse ethnic avatars would allow growth and more communication to our young children living in America. People all around the world learn English and learn about our culture, but whose cultures do we really learn about? Maybe if we opened our eyes and our media portrayed positive images of minorities and different ethnicites America would not be as judgemental and harsh.

On a lighter note...here are some pictures of Barbie avatars I came in contact with while adventuring in Barbie World. You can see how the skin tones range from light to dark and how the hair type can be altered but that's about it


Do you think that many minority groups/ethnicities lack representations in media outlets like virtual worlds, television, novels, films, and on the web? If so, why do you think there is a lack of minorities represented in our popular media/pop culture and why?


Do you think that Barbie World should include other ethnic avatars such a Hispanic, and Asian or do you think the virtual is fine just the way it is only allowing the gamer to adjust skin color from pale to dark?

1 comment:

  1. Do you think that many minority groups/ethnicities lack representations in media outlets like virtual worlds, television, novels, films, and on the web?

    I do believe that people of color do lack representation in television, novels, films and on the web. My exposure to virtual worlds has been more limited than with these other forms of media. If I base my answer on my experience with Barbie Girls, I would have to agree that there are fewer reflections of people of color in the virtual world as well. At first glance, it looks like there are seven skin tones one can choose when creating an avatar. Upon close examination, I discovered that some of the shades were duplicates and there were really only four choices. Plus, there are limited facial features one could choose. Avatars may have darker complexions, but they still end up looking like the blond Barbie doll that has been painted a different color. All of the ads to entice girls to play a game or design clothes used white avatars.

    If so, why do you think there is a lack of minorities represented in our popular media/pop culture and why?

    It comes down to who is on top when it comes to racial hegemony. An overwhelming number of people who have the power and finance media are white. The lack of presence of people of color has been naturalized over the years. There must be a specific reason why a person of color is shown on a show or described in a book because white is usually the default.