Yesterday, a Groupon sent me to a site called frecklebox.com which sells personalized items for kids. I was checking out the lunch boxes and came across the “Looks Like Me” series: lunch boxes with princesses, mermaids, fairies, etc. that come with different hair and skin colors.
Aside from the fact that little boys who like princesses get screwed, as usual, I thought this was pretty cool. It’s a shame you can’t mix and match — there’s no way to get a brown skinned, red haired princess, for example — but at least white is no longer the inevitable default. And the illustrations are cute and cartoony, appropriate for young kids.
What struck me as funny — in both the “hehe” and the “that’s odd” way — is that the models are only identified by hair color. To get a dark skinned princess, you order the Black Hair princess. To get a lighter brown princess, you order Brown Hair. If you want a white princess with brown hair, you order Dark Brown Hair. (I’m not sure if I can legally use their images, but you can see the lunchboxes here.)
It seemed to encapsulate, in a small way, how uncomfortable we still are about race in the United States. We’ve come far enough along to make an effort to represent different skin colors, but we can’t identify that skin color is what we’re talking about.