The bio for the Barbie Savior Instagram says it all: "It's not about me... but it kind of is."
While the now defunct Socality Barbie used the beloved Barbie doll to lampoon hipster Instagram accounts, Barbie Savior is taking it one step further by poking fun at people who suffer from the "White Savior Complex." If you're unfamiliar, the term is used to describe the white Westerners who travel to third world countries and make the entire affair an exercise in self-congratulatory #sacrifice.
The new account, created by two white twenty-something women (who choose to remain anonymous) was created five weeks ago, and already has over 7,000 followers. Its creators are self-professed former "white saviors," and say they draw from their own experiences of volunteering in East Africa.
"We were never as 'savioresque' as Barbie Savior, but we did things back in our White Savior days that we regret," the creators told The Huffington Post via email.
"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."
Of course, there's absolutely nothing wrong with doing volunteer work in Africa -- it's wonderful when people take the time and energy to make a difference for those who may be less fortunate. But the makers of the account say what they're trying to do is shine a light on the people who fetishize and over-sentimentalize the experience of visiting Africa: The people who turn smiling African school kids into living photo-ops, who talk about how "happy everybody is even though they're so poor!" and who never seem to specify exactly what country in Africa they actually visited (because, you know, Africa is a country).
"The attitude that Africa needs to be saved from itself, by Westerners, can be traced back to colonialism and slavery," says the makers of Barbie Savior. "It's such a simplified way to view an entire continent."
So to get their point across, the account creators said they decided Barbie Savior's Instagram would be full of satirical and outlandishly photoshopped images topped off with even more over-the-top hashtags in the captions.
Barbie Savior has gotten a generally positive response from Instagram users, but its creators concede that their brand of humor may "ruffle the feathers," of people who feel it's unfairly targeting volunteers. Still, they hope that the account will spark an important conversation about white savior complex through humor.
"We have both struggled with our own realizations and are definitely not claiming innocence here," the makers say. "Barbie Savior, we hope, is an entertaining jumping off point for some very real discussions, debates, and resolves."
And for the haters, the message is quite clear:
"If you're offended by the account then you'd better be offended by the real accounts who actually display this behavior in all authenticity. That is the real offense."
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