Booty Babe Art and the Fetishization of Black Women

The more time I spend on twitter, the more I realize that it’s really hard to talk about some issues with only 140 characters per post. It’s a really good platform for broad statements and over-arcing themes, but when the topic gets really nuanced and specific it’s easy to miss context. It’s also really easy for your distaste at a situation to get misconstrued. That happened to me today when I stumbled upon the kickstarter for Booty Babe Art.

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At first, I wasn’t too bothered by the dolls themselves. Bigger Black women looking like sexy pin-ups? I’m so here for that. I absolutely love the idea of more diverse body types being seen in art and media. However, when I got a look at exactly who was making these dolls I had to pause for a second.

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Everybody, meet Spencer Davis. He’s the artist behind Booty Babe Art. He’s been making these dolls since 1998 and came to kickstarter so he could get funding to make a line of five new dolls. According to the bio on his website, one of his influences is Black Tail Magazine. He uses the dolls to express “his passion for toy collecting, foreign culture, female beauty, fantasy and low brow art.” After taking in the context, I couldn’t help but feel quite a bit differently about the dolls. Suddenly images like these didn’t look so innocent or empowering anymore.

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Now, let’s get one thing straight before we continue. I don’t have an issue with sex or sexual imagery on it’s own. If you just browse my twitter timeline from last night you’d instantly know that. What I’m bothered by here is the words of the creator, the creator himself, and the image that he is producing.

In my humble opinion, this feels a lot like fetishization and objectification. From his words both on his website and in the kickstarter video, it feels like he’s doing this simply to fulfill a fetish for himself and not because he wants to see big Black women represented in art and media. That makes me feel distinctly uncomfortable.

If a Black woman had made these dolls because she wanted to see women who looked her represented and looking sexy, I wouldn’t have an issue. I’d probably pull out my wallet and donate what I could to the kickstarter and signal boost the hell out of it. Positive representation for Black women, especially fat/curvy Black women, is distinctly lacking and we do need more of it.

This campaign doesn’t feel like to me. It feels like a white man using Black women as both a fetish and a source of income. That’s not ok to me. I won’t be supporting this campaign and honestly it makes me feel really uncomfortable.

If you don’t see a problem with it, that’s fine and dandy. Feel free to give him all the money in your wallet. I’m going to stay far away from it though because it does’t feel right to me.

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