Gallery

Tracing the history of “Asian” Barbie

There are many odd and offputting aspects to Mattel’s relationship to various depictions of Asian characters in their dolls over the decades. Another one is that in 1976, well before the poorly thought out 1981 “Oriental Barbie” (sic), was the “Honey Hill Bunch” miniature play doll “I.Q.” With an adorable little girl face sculpt, she was just another one of little kids in the “playmate”-themed line. But that name… Its problematic nature was further emphasized by her one toy accessory being a “book.” (The other children had animals, flowers, a guitar, or a baseball bat.) “I.Q.’s” back of the box story similarly leaned heavily on a stereotype that became omnipresent in the media by the early ’80s. (http://dollreference.com/mattel_honey_hill_bunch_dolls.html)

Kelly Kasulis

Curvy, petite, tall and original – using the hashtag #TheDollEvolves, Mattel announced its release of three new body types for their Barbie brand dolls last Thursday. As a lover of toys and a recent buyer of a 1988 South Korea Barbie, I checked the new collection for Asian representation and, no doubt, Asian barbies are included. But I noticed one other thing: there were nocurvy Asian dolls in the collection.

One of the everlasting stereotypes of Asian women is that they are naturally thin, and it seems that Mattel agrees – the company is arguably making a statement by omission when they exclude an Asian “curvy” doll. Such a statement, however, is lost in the excitement of an iconic brand marketing progressive ideas of inclusion, “evolution” and increased diversity; A quick analysis using Keyhole.co and Social Mention show mostly neutral or positive use of the #TheDollEvolves hashtag online, with an estimated…

View original post 2,218 more words

What Is EffigiPie?

What is EffigiPie?


EffigiPie ties images from my Material Culture research for Doll Culture in America (University Press of Mississippi, upcoming) to my day-to-day life as a doll maker, doll restorer, doll collector, and general doll user. “Effigy,” in this instance, stands for those aspects of doll use that transcend the word “doll.” Are you, or do you know people, who say that they “don’t like ‘dolls'” but have one or more items in their possession that is small, poseable, has a face (even if does not have features on that face), and seems oddly trivial in the context of these people’s lives? Yet, for some reason people still keep such an object around? That small, human-looking object represents something anthropomorphized–something not human, yet given human-like qualities. It’s an “effigy” of an aspect of that person’s human existence.

–A doll is always an effigy, but an effigy isn’t always a doll. How is that?

An effigy can be a statue, something not to be meddled with. More often, when you see effigies in the news, though, aren’t they always being meddled with in the most enthusiastic way? You’ve probably seen politicos or celebrities or ordinary people with the spotlight burning on them having been made into life-size or larger than life 3D figures. People on the news bounce those figures around on poles, waving or burning them to bits. Guy Fawkes at the end of his “Day’s” festivities in England. Or your opposing team’s mascot at the peak of frenzy before the Big Game.

To be used as a doll, an effigy must be able to be manipulated, posed, ready to be altered at your whim. Unlike a statue or other forms of representational or fine arts, people take dolls for granted. To “be a doll” to someone may mean you are adorable, you bring gladness with your presence…or you can be easily dismissed. Dolls do not get so easily dismissed at EffigiPie. Those of us who know dolls know differently.

We know such effigies as a means to creative expression and as a tool to uncovering different parts of oneself and one’s identity with others.

–Did a relative or friend ever give you a “foreign doll” representing images of your background? Many of us have owned such a thing. Depending on your cultural background, you may have many such figures…or very few.

–Have you ever owned a “mascot” in plush or felt or other material? That little guy represented “you” to yourself in another way.

–Have you ever had a “lovey” (luvvy), a “stuffy,” a teddy bear, or whatever a soft item for children is called where you come from? That effigy, too, represents something about you, in a way that no other object can.

–Have you ever fiddled with a novelty or gag figure at your place of employment? Ever idly marched it or twisted it around a counter top, desk, or storage cabinet while on the phone? That doll is standing in for you there, too. That rubbery, wiry, colorful, silly thing may be an effigy of your company’s or client’s logo, but it’s an effigy of you at work, too.

Think of it… A doll acts as your brain’s stunt double.

So, EffigiPie treats you to a new angle of doll-as-effigy use. The depictions here may make you smile, laugh, or scratch your head. EffigiPie will always hope to find for you an oddly familiar little face to be a mirror for one of the many faces that make up “you.” We now have a page for you to share these faces with others. Tell us about the effigies of YOUR life. For now, we enter online activities without the benefit of using touch or smell. So you won’t be able to manipulate the effigies on this screen. (K.I.S.S. dolls and avatars not being easily supported on a blog site.) If my blog’s capabilities for user interaction changes in the near future, such that WordPress can support it, you’ll hear about it at EffigiPie. Until then, EffigiPie will provide the two dimensional details of a journey through the world of changeable little human-like forms like:

  • – dolls
  • –  action figures
  • – stuffed animals
  • – ceremonial figures
  • – K.I.S.S. (online interactive dolls)
  • – avatars
  • – and items with faces and malleability–but perhaps no category at all.

Face Sculptures Made Of Toys & Dolls [Image Sources:  http://blog-stampofapproval.com/2011/11/28/native-american-heritage-month-mississippian-effigy/; http://blog-stampofapproval.com/2011/11/28/native-american-heritage-month-mississippian-effigy/;Artist Freya Robbins. Source http://www.incrediblethings.com/art-design/face-sculptures-made-of-toys-doll-parts/%5D

If you were an action figure, what would you be?

bbt-action-figure_4945333_GIFSoup.com