12 August, 2003


I recall that, years ago, Saturday Night Live had a fake commercial for "Hip-Hop Barbie". Or maybe it was "Urban Barbie". Basically, a black Barbie that was actually black, and not just a heavily tanned white girl. (And let me just say, it is almost painful going through barbie.com. It's quite like going through the pink aisle at the toy store, only more visually assaulting.)

I got to thinking about that skit after seeing a commercial for Flavas. Which seem to be some kind of "tween"-like Barbie with a hip-hop attitude. Or, as Mattel puts it:

Flava, according to "Hip Hoptionary: The Dictionary of Hip Hop Terminology" by Alonzo Westbrook, means personal flavor or style. With the introduction of Flavas (pronounced FLAY-vuhz), the first reality-based fashion doll brand that celebrates today's teen culture through authentic style, attitude and values Mattel has created a hot hip-hop themed line that allows girls to express their own personal flava.

Ah, yes. Today's "teen culture". I suppose that can mean a lot of things, but I think the simplest translation is: "demographic".

I would also like to point out the folly of telling girls to "express their own personal flava", by purchasing a mass-manufactured doll that countless other girls will own. When did conformity become the new individuality?

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