Is This $400 Lanvin Doll Really Anything More Than a Glammed Up Mammy?

January 11, 2012 by Mom Jeanine
shefinds | Kids

Yesterday, a coworker sent me a link to these crazy $400 Lanvin dolls. She initially sent me this doll, but I was more alarmed when I looked down at the You May Also Like section and saw the black doll above. Umm, no Net-a-Porter, I don’t like.

Of course, the $400 price tag is ridiculous, but what’s even more insane is that the doll is basically a glammed up mammy. Sure, her apron is gone and she’s wearing a little more eye makeup, but there’s really no denying the likeness. From the red headscarf right down to the red lips, that is definitely a mammy.

Now in case you’re unfamiliar, the “mammy” is a stereotypical caricature of African American women that was popularized during the Jim Crow era. The sterotype goes that black women actually liked being slaves, loved their White families more than their own and loved serving their masters. Hence, the wide, red-lip smile that’s a staple on just about every mammy doll’s face. She’s just so darn happy with her lot in life.

For comparison’s sake, here are a few traditional mammy dolls:

Okay, so now that you’ve seen those, we can all agree this Lanvin doll is a mammy, right? Now I’d like to give both Lanvin and Net-a-Porter the benefit of the doubt and say there was no harm intended. But no. I’m not going to do that because there’s just no way they didn’t know this was a mammy doll. Maybe if they had chosen any other color besides red or removed the doll’s headwrap, then maybe I would have let things slide. But the Lanvin mammy doll is just too blatant.

Whether you’re African American or not, I think there’s something to be said about supporting companies that propagate degrading stereotypes about any group of people. Just like I take issue with people who get off watching other women fight and act crazy on reality shows or products that try to pass Swastikas off as harmless design, I think both Lanvin and Net-a-Porter should be sent a message that a doll like this isn’t ok. I would never buy this doll for myself, let alone my daughter.

But maybe that’s just me. What do you think? For one, would you spend $400 on a cloth doll? What about the fact that it’s basically a mammy doll? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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