The Barbie Savior

I find this class really funny. It isn’t because the course material is something to laugh about or even that we crake jokes in class. It is however the fact that you don’t realize the stuff we are talking about in class is a problem until you are told about it. It is like all of a sudden the world is a different place; you suddenly see the problem everywhere you look. And the place that is shocked me the most: medical volunteerism. Professor McCoy talks about it and shows us an article about it and then all of a sudden, I can’t not find ways to connect it.

I was sitting in my bed, mindlessly watching reruns of Impractical Jokers as I scroll through my Facebook. I scroll through Thanksgiving pictures and Tasty video’s, I come across an article posted by an old high school friend. It was a post with no explanation by her as to why she posted it, and its title: “Volunteering Abroad? Read This Before You Post That Selfie?”. It’s header picture is a sick African boy in a hospital bed as a white girl in high waist shorts tries to get a selfie with the boy.

If you go through the article they start referencing this Instagram account “barbiesavior” which essentially what a white saviors Instagram would look life if they went to Africa told through the lens of Barbie dolls.

While I continue to find it part jarring and part funny how this idea of “medical voluntarism” keeps popping up, which I assume it has been for year but I am only now starting to really realize and resonate with it, I find this parody account oddly sad and understanding in some way. Why is it that we can only grasp how odd and unusual it is to take a selfie with an African kid if we see it done to a Barbie doll is who is being very obvious what it’s intention is. Why is it only absurd when we see posts captions that say, “There are no trained medical professionals or hospitals in Africa, so I am drawing on my vast amount of knowledge gained during those few days to cure and heal those around me! #myloveistheirdrug”.

I wish I had the answer to this, I wish I could give more to this blog post than just saying “it’s a problem” but I do not know how to fix it. Maybe we must take a step like Washington did in Medical Apartheid. We must understand what is wrong and show it to people so that other’s eyes can be opened to the information that has opened mine. Maybe if many more people knew the problems, we can make the world a lot less sadly funny as we scroll through Facebook.


Volunteering Abroad? Article:


Barbie Savior Instagram:

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