Culture

Barbie Is Doing Día De Muertos Once Again In 2020 And Twitter Has Something To Say About It

Mexico’s famed Día de Muertos celebrations are coming up, the time of year when families honor their dead relatives with ofrendas, parades, visits to cemeteries, and many other festivities.

And, of course, Barbie wasn’t going to miss out on the celebrations.

Mattel – which makes Barbie – has just launched a new Barbie Catrina that is much more festive and colorful than the first one last year, who was dressed in black.

On this occasion, Mattel worked with Mexican-American designer Javier Meabe who wanted to reflect the joy and deep-rooted traditions of the country.

“As a Mexican-American designer, it was important for me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well as the traditions I grew up with that are represented and celebrated in Barbie,” Meaba said in a statement from Mattel. 

Although, Mattel has enlisted the designs of a Mexican-American designer, not everyone is pleased with the launch. Some are worried that the entire Día de Muertos collection is potentially watering down a 3,000-year-old tradition and are accusing Barbie of cultural appropriation.

Barbie is releasing its second Día de Muertos doll and it’s generating plenty of buzz.

For the second year in a row, Mattel is launching a Día de Muertos Barbie modeled after the traditions of Mexico’s famed celebrations.

“We often look at different ways to continue to engage girls and families to gain knowledge and celebrate other cultures and other parts of the world,” Michelle Chidoni, a spokeswoman for the company, said. “Our hope is for this Día de Muertos Barbie to honor the holiday for the millions that celebrate and to introduce people not familiar with the tradition to the rich meaning.”

This year’s doll was designed by Mexican American designer Javier Meabe who was inspired by his personal background and family traditions.

“It was very important that the second Dia De Muertos doll felt just as special as the first in the Barbie series,” said Meabe in a statement. “As a Mexican American Designer, it was important to me to use my creative voice to design a doll that celebrates the bright colors and vivid textures of my culture, as well, as have the traditions I grew up with represented and celebrated in Barbie.”

He continued, “For this doll, I was inspired by the color gold seen throughout Mexican culture, jewelry, buildings, statues and artwork and highlighted it throughout the design. The roses represent emotions and moments in life including celebrations, birth, death, passion, and love and I also was inspired to introduce new textures and a new dress silhouette.”

Barbie lovers can buy the doll for $75 on the company’s website or at mass retailers such as Amazon, Target and Walmart.

Last year marked the first time Barbie celebrated the iconic Mexican holiday.

Credit: Barbie / Mattel, Inc

Last year, Mattel released the first Barbie doll celebrating the Mexican holiday Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), and it was a huge hit. The floral dress and headpiece on the doll combined with the traditional calavara makeup design was absolutely stunning, and the same can be said about the 2020 version that just launched.

This time around, the Barbie Dia de Muertos doll features a light, blush-colored lace dress over a layer embroidered with floral and skeleton accents. The intricacy of the makeup has been taken up a notch, and the “golden highlights in her hair shimmer beneath a crown of skeleton hands holding roses and marigolds.”

However, since last year many have been questioning the intentions of Barbie and whether or not this is a good move.

In Mexican culture, the Día de Muertos — or Day of the Dead — is when the gateway between the living and the dead is said to open, a holiday during which the living honor and pay respects to loved ones who have died.

The new Día de Muertos Barbie was intended less as a portal into the realm of the dead and more as a gateway into Mexican culture. At least that is what Mattel is hoping for.

However, not everyone agrees. Latinx Twitter has lit up with both excitement and anger, with some folks appreciating the design while others are calling Mattel out for cultural appropriation. The Día de Muertos doll is another way Latinx culture is slowly entering the mainstream. With acclaimed shows like Vida and One Day at a Time and movies like Coco and Roma winning accolades — it seems even a toy company is looking to capitalize on Latinx culture

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This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Culture

This Brand Is Being Called A ‘Culture Vulture’ After Being Accused Of Gentrifying Latino Cooking

Granddriver / Getty Images

As a kid growing up in a Latino household, pretty much everyone had a giant molcajete for grinding up spices and making salsas, or a tortilladora for whipping up homemade tacos and quesadillas. And as staple of pretty much any Latina home, they weren’t that expensive either.

Well, one online company has taken all of that and flipped it upside down to try and make a very hefty profit by bringing ‘artisan crafted’ products into people’s homes – helping them experience a ‘cultural journey.’

The store’s outrageous prices for such traditional kitchen items is generating tons of criticism alone from people calling them ‘culture vultures’ and accusing them of gentrifying Latino cooking and cultural appropriation.

Verve Culture is being called a ‘culture vulture’ for taking traditional Latino cooking tools and selling them at insanely high prices.

Credit: MiComidaVegana / YouTube

Verve Culture – an online store dedicated to bringing “you on a cultural journey” – is facing a series of complaints after profiting from traditional cultural products. The company sells typical products in the preparation of three traditional cuisines at very high prices: Mexican, Moroccan, and Thai.

In the case of traditional Mexican products, the company sells orange and lemon juices; accessories for making chocolate, blown glasses, and molcajetes. And at insanely high prices: a molcajete for $60, a tortilla press for $60, a Mexican chocolate set for $80, and a “Mexican hand juicer” for $15.

The company is obviously profiting off of traditional products of a culture that is too often denigrated – or on the other end of the spectrum, fetishized. Brands are no stranger to appropriating traditional cultural items to boost sales but this particular instance seems to have hit a major nerve with shoppers.

Like, for real?! A molcajete for $60 USD?!

Among some of the most outrageous priced items is a molcajete and tortillero set that goes for $60 USD. That’s literally 20 times more expensive than it should cost.

As someone who lives in Ciudad de México, and who does their shopping at local tianguis and mercados, I have literally bought the exact same set Verve Culture is selling. I paid $60 pesos for the set – not $60 USD – or about $3 USD.

Selling items like this at such inflated prices means Verve Culture is profiting off of the cultural and gastronomic identity of an entire country. So it’s no surprise that Mexican Twitter lit up in shock and anger.

The reaction on Twitter was swift and full of outrage.

A Tweet showing off the outrageously priced products and accusing the brand of “gentrifying Mexican kitchen cookware” already has 36,000 likes and almost 20,000 retweets.

Among some of the comments include one Twitter user who said “Take your site down. This is an insult to Mexican culture along with all the other cultures you’re profiting off. Our culture is not your home decor!”

Another user tweeted, “…not of them is brown so it should really be named stolen culture because they’re selling fancy versions of things traditional to Mexican culture. Having one is fine, profiting off of a minority or their culture is not fine.”

While at least one person pointed out that the people who craft these items have long been taken advantage of. In a tweet, she said “Culturally we’ve been taught that our incredible craft and culture are worth close to nothing for years now, I really wish we could just collectively erase this mindset but at this point it’s so deeply rooted that thinking differently even feels “wrong” most times.”

Many pointed out that if you want to respect a culture’s food, support actual locals and artesanos.

Shopping online from three women who are not from the communities they’re profiting off of, is now way to support that community. That should be common sense but that site seems to have many customers.

As one Twitter user pointed out, if you really want to support local trabajadores, you should be buying directly from them. Shop in your local flea markets, your Latinx-owned shops and markets, this is how you’ll best help artisans.

The company’s $60 tortilla press was even featured in a Buzzfeed article earlier this year.

In the article, the author points out that the “tortilla press is made in Mexico from old Singer sewing machines and other recycled irons! The cast iron should last you, basically, forever so it’s definitely worth your money.”

That’s all great but where is that money going? How much of the $60 is the Mexican, Moroccan, Thai artisan actually earning from Verve Culture’s sales?

So what is Verve Culture and what do they have to say about all of this?

According to their website, Verve Culture is “a women-run business spanning three generational groups from Baby Boomer, Gen X, to Millennial.” As founders, Jules and Jacquie are a mother and daughter team who have worked together for 27 years.

In the company’s about section, they go on to say, “We are in constant pursuit of life traveled fully.”

“Our vision is to explore the cultural richness of artisans and communities around the world – to educate and inspire, while honoring the traditions and heritage of their work.”

Despite these claims, Twitter has been loud and clear in its message: stop profiting off the backs of already underpaid and overworked artisans from around the world.

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Adele’s Bantu Knots Spark Conversations About The Barriers Of Cultural Appropriation And What’s Worth The Upset

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Adele’s Bantu Knots Spark Conversations About The Barriers Of Cultural Appropriation And What’s Worth The Upset

adele /Instagram

If you thought nothing else about 2020 could surprise you anymore, you clearly haven’t seen what’s up with Adele.

Over the weekend the “Hello” singer posted an image of herself to Instagram that quickly found itself under scrutiny. In the photo, Adele is seeing wearing a Jamaican flag bikini top and Bantu knots in her hair. The caption for the post reads “Happy what would be Notting Hill Carnival my beloved London.” A series of flags from Great Britain and Jamaica end the caption.

Adele’s photo appears to be an attempt at cultural appreciation gone off the tilt.

According to Newsweek, “The Notting Hill Carnival is a popular annual event that’s significant in Black British culture, and it takes place during the Sunday and Monday of the country’s August Bank Holiday weekend. The carnival that began in 1966 has taken on a Caribbean flavor since 1976, but it was canceled this year because of COVID-19.”

The cancellation of the event hasn’t kept people from participating in the event virtually in their own ways however. Certainly, it didn’t hold Adele back. The singer wore the traditional African hairstyle that according to NaturallyCurly.com, has been around for over a century. “Bantu” is a term that describes hundreds of African tribes that spoke the “Bantu” language. It does not, however, belong to any one group of people in particular.

Still, it’s easy to understand why Adele’s decision to wear the look has drawn some criticism and brow raises.

In recent years, conversations about cultural appropriation have become commonplace on platforms like Instagram and Twitter. Cancel and Callout Culture have led users to become up in arms whenever a person seems to appropriate the culture of another group. The ire of these hypercritical cultures often seems to know no difference between people who are well-meaning and those who are just intending to be mean.

And while it is true that the misuse and misrepresentation of minority cultures can perpetuate harmful stereotypes and even be seen as an exploitative form of colonialism, in Adele’s case many are wondering whether this is the case.

“All this crying about silly things is getting boring now mind, remember when black people had real issues to fight for…now they get triggered by a white woman’s hairstyle,” one user wrote in the comments section of Adele’s post.

“If 2020 couldn’t get any more bizarre, Adele is giving us Bantu knots and cultural appropriation that nobody asked for. This officially marks all of the top white women in pop as problematic. Hate to see it,” journalist Ernest Owens commented about the image.

“WE LOVE SEEING OUR FLAG EVERYWHERE!!!!” one person wrote in the comments. “This made me smile. It shows the impact my little island has on the whole world. How influential we truly are.”

Still, some have been quick to remind others that while yes Adele’s post is odd and problematic the singer has long been an ally of black people.

She has paid tribute to Black people and Black artistry in appropriate ways. Let’s give her a chance to do it again? After all, as the carnival’s executive director, Matthew Phillip pointed out to The Guardian over the weekend, the event has particular significance this year.

“For more than 50 years carnival has been a statement that Black Lives Matter,” Phillip pointed out. “That’s normal practice for us, it’s not something that we’re just jumping on now because of the current global climate and what’s going on. Carnival has been making these statements for 50 years… In a year when people have been protesting against the treatment of black people, I think this is a good way of showing that we have something to contribute, something that is positive.”


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