Show This Instagram Account to Your Friend Who Keeps Uploading Photos With African Kids


Screen Shot 2016-04-20 at 11.27.14 AMWe all have at least one of these people on our Facebook friends list. First come the solicitations for donations so that they can travel to Haiti or Africa or Guatemala to build houses or bring supplies. Then come the photos. Oh, the photos. It is your white friend or cousin or old classmate smiling broadly as they are surrounded by considerably darker, considerably worse-dressed children. More often than not, you’re treated to a lengthy caption about the life-changing experience and how blessed the person was to see the kids smiling. That person posted the photo from the comfort of their home or the airport because they got to leave after electing to spend a week or so seeing how the other half lives.

This is referred to as the “white savior complex” and you should definitely read up on it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with volunteering, helping others out, and truly caring, but the element of overshare always comes across as disingenuous and believing that Africa is a place that needs Western intervention points to a twisted, self-centered global ideology. Posting a bunch of photos that highlight the clear juxtaposition in class between oneself and the people being helped doesn’t do a lot of good; it is just a way of asking for validation, asking to be branded the #1 Good Person. Those types of photos always beg the question, “So, why did you really go all the way to Micronesia over spring break?”

That question is now being answered in a very unique way: Using Barbies. An Instagram account called @BarbieSavior has popped up recently and is making waves for its realistic depiction of the complex using dolls as fake as some people’s intentions.

Huffington Post found out that the two owners of the account are former “White Saviors” by their own admission. Though they chose to remain anonymous, they did tell HuffPo this:

We were never as “savioresque” as Barbie Savior, but we did things back in our White Savior days that we regret … It really just started as a joke between us, a way to get some of these things off of our chest. Its hard to pinpoint the irony at times in real life… the wildly self-centered person veiled as the self-sacrificing saint … The attitude that Africa needs to be saved from itself, by Westerners, can be traced back to colonialism and slavery. It’s such a simplified way to view an entire continent.”

Again, volunteering is incredible and selfless and should be encouraged at every turn, but self-awareness is key in avoiding offensive missteps and perpetuating antiquated, harmful colonial standards.

[image via screengrab]

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