What is Birthday Barbie Png?
Birthday Barbie Png is a unique idea created by North American artist Melanie Martinez. The project was originally made as a reaction to the lack of diversity in Barbie dolls. It features original characters that celebrate different ages and cultures, and each doll is based on the culture of its creator.
Melanie Martinez started out as an artist in 2008 by creating “The Dollface Series” of paintings. She was then inspired to create Birthday Barbie Png after noticing that her daughter’s only options for a doll were either white or blonde hair with blue eyes and European skin tone, or black hair with brown skin and African American features. Her goal for the dolls is to “give kids option so they can find themselves.” In just a few years, Birthday Barbie Png has expanded to include almost 20 artists and 50 dolls in their collection.
What’s unique about this idea is the doll creators are average people who are not professionals in the art world. They range from a 6-year-old artist to a grandmother of four. Each artist is given free reign to create their own design with one stipulation: they can’t use pink, light blue or blonde hair. This is because “Blonde Barbie” is the default doll that tickles our society’s specific preferences for appearance, and it would be impossible for the artists to work around that expectation without coloring the hair or making it curly or wavy. By avoiding these big name colors, the artists are able to showcase their own styles and create dolls that are unique and meaningful for their culture.
As far as body shape, Birthday Barbie Png works to avoid a stereotypical white female model body shape. They use a variety of shapes and features to represent the doll creators, including overweight women. Size 10-20 is considered the average size of an American woman so it isn’t unusual to see women in that range represented on the market. Their goal is just to include more diverse perspectives in their art, from African Americans with natural hair to petite Asian women.
Each doll is handcrafted by a queer artist and made of polymer clay. They are not mass-produced and they would never be sold to the public. This is primarily because the artists insist that Barbie Png represent each culture, not just Barbie as a figure in itself. Furthermore, many of the dolls have cultural features such as African American hair that are not featured on typical American dolls. As Cohen says, “The presence of marginalized bodies in each collection has significant consequences for how we think about ownership.”
In addition to the dolls themselves, Melanie Martinez has created a blog that will include information about each artist, background information on their cultures and their inspirations for the designs.
Artwork and Inspiration:
The inspiration for the dolls comes from many different sources. Some of the artists were inspired by their own culture and history, while others were inspired by their children. Some were even inspired by iconic toys such as the Lammily doll or Sia’s infamous ugly/beautiful video that showcased diverse body shapes.
Numerous artists have shared their stories online. Examples include:
• The First Polish Barbie Doll – Meet Marta Bielas, an artist who created a doll based on her own heritage as a Polish immigrant to America. Marta’s doll includes traditional Polish features such as her strong chin and blue eyes.
• Mattel and Barbie’s White Skin Privilege – In 2016, a Barbie doll, which was given to all Hispanic attendees of the annual National Hispanic Heritage Month celebration (which celebrates cultures of Central America and Mexico), was given “rudimentary” skin tones in order to project a “white” appearance.
• The Day I Became Mexican – In 2012, artist Maria Coronel published an article detailing her experience with creating her own Barbie inspired by the culture of Mexico. She made sure to include authentic Mexican characteristics such as dark hair and brown eye color.
Some have questioned whether or not this project is actually an effective way to show a diverse group of people or make an impact on society. There are also those who would rather see dolls with darker skin colors and other features being sold in stores instead of the current white Barbie. In response, Melanie Martinez has pointed out that sales for the dolls have been steadily increasing for each artist as well as for the website, so it’s clear that people are finding meaning in these dolls and that they are a positive influence in the art world. This project is also just a hobby for many of the artists, so it’s unlikely that they would be able to incorporate this into a career unless they took it seriously at first.
The other disadvantage is that these dolls are not produced in mass factory quantities. This means the artists are completely dependent on individual sales to make each doll profitable. As a result, they may have trouble creating dolls in certain sizes or shapes (e.g. smaller dolls have more difficulty being made than larger ones), and they may also not be able to create dolls for every single culture that wants one.