New Petition Claims Mattel Tells An Incomplete Story For Barbie Doll Honoring Rosa Parks

August 30, 2019  |  

Rosa Parks File Photos - 1990's

Source: Monica Morgan / Getty

As a tribute to Women’s Equality Day earlier this week, a Barbie doll created to honor Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks was released, but many are outraged by the packaging and language used to tell Parks’ story.

The doll, which was produced by popular toy company Mattel, features Parks wearing a similar outfit to the one she sported the day she refused to give up her seat on the Montgomery, Alabama bus to a white passenger in 1955. The statement about Parks’ life on the company’s website and on the packaging states the following: “Rosa Louise Parks led an ordinary life as a seamstress until an extraordinary moment on December 1, 1955.”

Many have slammed the toy company for the language used claiming it reduces Parks’ “decades of activism into a single moment.” A Color of Change petition was even created calling for Mattel to tell Parks’ “full story”.

“Adjusting the language for Rosa Parks’ Barbie is crucial. Dolls are one of the first toys a child interacts with that allows a child to begin to understand who they are, and start to imagine who they can be,” the petition reads. “They have the power to represent culture and help a child understand their racial identity. Barbie has a large role in this; Mattel and Barbie have been pivotal in helping children begin to understand themselves, understand their creativity and self-expression, and dream up goals and career paths.

“When a Black doll — particularly one based on a real person — does not have a full, multidimensional story, it means the children who play with it lose a powerful opportunity to imagine themselves accomplishing their greatest dreams. It is necessary to tell Rosa Parks’ full story to avoid sending a limited to message to Black children that their own stories — their history — are not worth being told.”

It’s unclear if Mattel will change the language used on the packaging, and the company has not released a statement about the issue as of Thursday.

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