We got off the subway at 125th Street and Broadway, and headed for Madame Alexander's doll factory on 131st, just east of the river. RAD school had booked a tour there for our kindergarteners - a chance for the kids to see the dolls being designed and built.
Little did I know that I was about to get an education in the genesis of cultural stereotypes.
We started in a room filled with Madame Alexander dolls from many of the lines the company has been producing for almost a hundred years. There, our guide educated us on the different faces of the dolls, how they were made originally, how Madame had been the first to make plastic dolls. We then got to see the various iterations of the company's attempts at Cultural Diversity in Dollmaking.
Uhmmm...yeah...not a huge success story in racial sensitivity.
There was the black Madame Alexander doll - in full tribal/clan regalia.
There was the Latina one - in a dress Eva Longoria wouldn't be caught dead in, and boobs that looked like mine when I was nine months pregnant. That's her in the upper right picture.
Then there was 70s Strut Cissy (pictured left) - in boots that were made for walking. And propped on a block with her legs open. Did I mention she was black?
Oh - can't forget the other "medium toned" one, Mexican, in a Mayan outfit. Because we all know that's how most Mexicans dress nowadays.
I had to laugh...
and take pictures...
and promise to myself that the day's observations would go on the blog.
Because you CANNOT make this shit up, people.