Two millennial white women, who won’t disclose their identities, have launched a Barbie Savior Instagram page as a way to poke fun at white people who volunteer abroad. Although they claim to be “former white saviors,” and created the Instagram page to stimulate conversation on how Americans (white people especially) can leave their idealistic savior perceptions at home, the page has done the opposite.
On the controversial account, Savior Barbie is seen in a variety of pictures hugging Black babies or children (variations of Mattel’s Skipper doll), with captions like the following: “We’ve only just met but doesn’t it look like we have the most special of bonds? Connecting comes so naturally to us. #canoodlingforchrist #whatsyournameagain #igotyoubabe #inthenameofjesus #caniborrowyourbaby #sweet #tender #facetoface #friendlyfaceoff #hideyokidshideyoorphans #wheredemorphansat #whitesavior #likes #likeme #followme #instabond”
Aside from her volunteering efforts, Savior Barbie also discusses what dating is like in African countries. In a photo of a Black Ken doll, Savior Barbie described how “Kenyan” approaches women like her: “In America we have Tinder, but in Africa, they do things a little differently! You stand on a street corner and several cute guys pull up to you on motorcycles. From there, you choose which one you want to become emotionally, and financially, entwined with. I’m “swiping” right on this guy! #andswipingmyATMcard #iloveafricasoicanloveonafricans #sorryken #tradingkenforakenyan #chocolateKenisbetter #chocolatehairvanillacare #goinblackandtalkinsmack #nevergoingback #imGhanaloveyouforever”
In an interview with the Huffington Post, the creators revealed they understand how their page can be offensive but they also point out the page is satirical while there are people who post similar content who are not trying to be tongue-in-cheek about volunteerism or the savior complex. “We have both struggled with our own realizations and are definitely not claiming innocence here, Barbie Savior, we hope, is an entertaining jumping off point for some very real discussions, debates, and resolves,” they told Huffington Post. “ If you’re offended by the account then you’d better be offended by the real accounts who actually display this behavior in all authenticity. That is the real offense.”
Although they make a good point, the creators of Barbie Savior fail to create meaningful discussions on why it’s problematic that Barbie Savior writes condescending captions on photos where black children are seen as accessories. They also don’t discuss how African men are objectified (in real life) as exotic partners who are used to help female saviors get in touch with “nature.” Because of this, many of their 50.7K followers are seen posting comments about how hilarious the account is. Barbie Savior gives white people permission to laugh at the God-like attitudes they exhibit when traveling; leaving no room to examine how damaging their behavior is.