Monday, December 13, 2010

Oprah Winfrey and Mammee Dolls

According to reports from AOL's Black Voices, a store in Australia had to prepare for the daytime TV star and her 300 member entourage. Oprah's entourage consisted of lucky viewers accompanying her on her visit to Australia. A store in Melbourne called Dafel Dolls and Bear Shop was said to be selling dolls that promoted the negative stereotypes of black women, specifically a Mamee Doll. The producers of Oprah's show asked that the dolls be removed from the shelves while Oprah and her guests where in the store. The store agreed.

Mamee is not the traditional spelling traditionally associated with the offensive term. The normal spelling is mammy. defines mammy as:

n. pl. mam·mies
1. Mother.
2. Offensive A Black nursemaid, especially one formerly in the southern United States.

The physical traits of mammy often portrays black women as servants and nurses. Generally speaking they are never seen in an attractive light. They always have on red lipstick and a headscarf that hides their hair. The stigmas associated with mammy lend a hand to many of insecurities women of color have about complexion, weight and hair texture. Mammy was a mainstream figure that blatantly placed black women in an undesirable light.

The lingering question in most minds however, is why would Oprah even visit a store that sells something so disrespectful to women? It is hard to say. However, her star power is undeniable. She had the store which was bold enough to sell something so offensive take their merchandise down. According to the report the dolls actually sell.

The story can be found at Black Voices . Here is an excerpt from the story:

An Australian store was forced to remove seemingly racist dolls called "Mamee Dolls" to prepare for a visit from Oprah Winfrey.

As previously reported, Winfrey and her audience on an eight-day Aussie adventure as part of her 'Favorite Things' segment give-away.

According to the Herald Sun, the talk show mogul and her 300 guests were scheduled to visit The Dafel Dolls And Bear Shop in Melbourne when her producers requested that the store's "Mamee" dolls be removed from the shelves.

The Mamee dolls show a dark skinned African-American woman with red lipstick, wearing a maid costume and a scarf around her head.

The store owner reportedly obliged and the dolls were removed.

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  1. Ugh. I'm actually not a fan of Oprah. Sure, her PRODUCERS asked them to be removed, but she still supported the store. So if a normal black person walks in the store, they must face the degrading images/dolls, simply because they are not Oprah. Gross. She should have boycotted the store completely and also confronted them about it. Make them promise to stop selling the dolls and then had the owner on the show to explain himself, and then educate him.

    Instead, she'll invite that guy on her show, the guy who wrote _A Million Little Pieces_ and make him apologize for something that ultimately doesn't really matter nor affect anyone. Gross.

    I saw a store in New Orleans this summer that was selling mammy dolls. Gross #3.

  2. Wow!!! I am sorry that is gross. I did find it odd that she still gave a store like that business and the way it was reported on Black Voices she was questioned for still giving the store any business at all. I don't really know what to think. This isn't the first time that she has tried to go into a place that was notorious for having racist tendencies.

    I actually am a Oprah fan though, I think she is pretty "boss" especially when you consider that in the beginning of her career no one thought she would be a successful journalist let alone who she is today.

    I did think the whole incident was unfortunate though.I see your point.

  3. Oh, no doubt she has overcome obstacles that is very admirable especially considering how women in general and specifically black women in America are still treated today. For sure.

    I'm just quite not sure about how she does certain things. But then again, are we asking too much for her to be some sort of "super hero" for the black community to take on such stores each and every time she comes across it. Is it really her burden to bear? Or is it all of ours?