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Barbie and McDonalds: Little Black Girls Dream of White Barbie Careers

Oh yes, two of my favorite companies have teamed up to insult us once again.

McDonalds, of course, is responsible for using crappy little toys to sell children high calorie meals. From greenwashing to promoting unattainable body images, Barbie’s crimes are too large to list!  Now, both companies have really gone too far!

McDonald’s recent Happy Box image partners with Barbie in ways I can’t believe made it past anyone in either corporation.  The image features an African-American girl dreaming of future careers.  Each of the career Barbies in the bubble above is white!  What kind of message does that send?  Dream big little black girl…some day you will be white!

PhD in Parenting explains:

What does this Happy Meal Box say?

If you read the fine print on the box, it is about careers. If you just look at the box (which is what most people will do and is all that much of the Happy Meal eating public — i.e. not yet literate children — is capable of), you get a different message. You see a little girl of colour dreaming about being one of five almost identical blond, blue-eyed, unrealistically proportioned white women wearing a lot of sparkly pink. Even if you read the big, bold text without getting into the fine print, it is still telling this little girl that if she dreams really big, she can be just like Barbie.

A few years ago, Renee from Womanist Musings wrote about the damage that Barbie dolls do to girls, especially girls of colour:

For any little girl, a Barbie Doll is a complicated gift because it is so completely unrepresentative of female bodies.  Barbie is one of the mothers of negative body images.  This is compounded when the child in question is Black.  When a Black girl is given a Black doll with Eurocentric features and straight hair, what does it teach her but that she is not beautiful.  Because beauty is one of the few sites of female power this can be extremely damaging.

I’ve written my own thoughts on black barbie dolls, and perhaps this Happy Meal box would be less offensive if black dolls were used; however, when you look through the 120 career barbie dolls over the years, I can only find images of two that are African American.  These African American dolls, which are listed with “AA” in parentheses in case you can’t tell from their  caucasian features, didn’t begin production until 2004.  I guess presidential candidate and news anchor are not suitable for dreams of a little girl on a  Happy Meal box.


  1. Thank you so much for this. Will be sharing.

  2. The AA in parentheses says it all. In the ’80s there was an African American lawyer Barbie, and an African American Skipper. Both had straight black hair, among other things.

  3. Re: Barbie and McDonalds: Little Black Girls Dream of White Barbie Careers
    I didn’t know that a career could be white or black! I am no fan of Barbie dolls at all but looking at the image my first thought wasn’t “That little girl wants to be white.”. My first thought was “why is that little girl wearing makeup?”. BTW, I guess it’s not a surprise that Barbie never married and had children… they kept her so busy trying every career under the sun, she never had the time!!

  4. Sgt_majorette says:

    When Barbie first came out, my father wouldn’t let me have one because she was too white. He relented when the brunette came out, because she was sort of almost olive-skinned. My eyes rolled then as they do now.

    Barbie isn’t real. She’s a *doll*. You cut off her hair, your little brother pulls off her limbs and your older brother sticks her in the oven. She’s always barefoot and generally naked. What kind of a life is that to aspire to?

    If a little girl idolizes Barbie, her mother may need to be slapped.


  1. […] you  as to what you should aspire to acquire in life?  Isn’t the whole point of the career-inspired Barbies to influence young girls into believing any career is […]

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