Sunday, November 29, 2009

Burka Barbie and the Burka Band

The title to this post was not a misprint. The company that produces Barbie has branched out to every possible culture and ethnicity. But it has now come out with a limited edition of Burqa Barbie, a doll that is clad from head to toe in shapeless clothing, with only a mesh peephole through which to see. It is the new trend in the Islamic world, making an Olympic competition of marginalising women as well as turning grotesquely extreme modesty into a form of sartorial anorexia.

Does Mattel feel any sense of responsibility to promote healthy values through its dolls? Did it worry about Barbie's effect on body image? I think the answer is obvious. Barbie's manufacturers are worried about markets. And if they need a burqa to fit in, that is just fine. Meet 21st century globalism.

I could belabour the comic and satiric potential of this Obamaesque bow of marketing to multiculturalism. The blog Barbara's Tschatzkas has already covered it very well, spelling out the sheer grotesqueness of the burqa as follows.

"A woman, a girl, in a chador, chadari, burqa, cannot see that well. You cannot hear what she is saying. She cannot hear you. A woman in a burqa can’t run, or even walk that well. She stumbles. Inside, she has to balance a baby, a shopping bag, maybe a pair of glasses perched on her nose, slipping. If it’s hot, she is sweltering. If it’s sunny, she is still deprived of sunlight and Vitamin D. The burqa violates a woman’s human rights. It poses a danger to a woman’s health, both mental and medical."

If the makers of Barbie want to promote their doll, they might want to consider the Burka Band. This is a group of Afghan female musicians that can not identify themselves in Afghanistan for fear of their lives. They have performed and released a video in Germany, where "Burka Blue" was a hit. The lyrics are distinctly satirical, but they would not dream of performing with faces uncovered or even revealing their names.

Burqa Barbie is almost like a caricature of the self abasement of 21st century capitalism. As you can see from the video below, it is all too real. What a shame.

Barbie with a burka
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1 comment:

bullmoosegal said...

Fabulous and clever protest song. Thanks for sharing this.