I'm Not A Barbie Girl, In A Barbie World
by sfarn1 on October 21, 2013 - 9:54pm
In a recent journal called "We're Not Barbie Girls" by authors Louise Collins, April Lidinsky, Andrea Rusnock, and Rebecca Torstrick it discussed how Barbie’s give young girls and tweens a negative image of what women are "supposed" to look like and how this can affect their self image and attitude. In the journal it talks about how 11.5pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:#4C4C4C">"American girls today are subjected to powerful forces that are affecting their identity development in historically unprecedented ways 11.5pt;font-family:"Arial","sans-serif";color:#4C4C4C">". In the past girls were raised in a society that enforced that they maintain high morals and not be subjected to promiscuity and other sexual norms. However today we can see that not only is sex and adult feminity advertised everywhere it is also displayed in the toys that we give our children today. Although Barbie is not the only culprit of displaying and placing these negative perceptions of feminity in children’s minds it is a prominent and well known one. For example the journal describes how although Barbie’s are often displayed taking a part in advanced career positions and roles in society like an Astronaut or journalist it still focuses on how stylish and chic she is while performing the job for example the Astronaut Barbie can be seen in a pink Astronaut suit and the journalist is seen with a pink flip phone and trendy two piece suit. This is training young girls to view and judge other girls in relation to their definitions of being "in style" and beautiful in terms of how cute they present themselves. Not only is Barbie’s dimensions strangely off with having her be presented with an elongated neck that would be too long for a human body and a waist too narrow to be healthy, she also doesn’t represent any ethnic difference other than the typical White American girl. Although today we know that they have other Barbie’s that represent different ethnicities our immediate image when we think of Barbie is the main Barbie that appears in all of the movies and is always in placed in front of the other dolls. In the workshop a participant responds to this by saying "Barbie is always the leader and others are behind her... [She] has blues eyes and blonde hair so she is the leader". The journal concludes by stating how important it is for young girls to know that even though media and society advertises Barbie’s and other dolls as "true" beauty, it is not what is on the outside that makes you beautiful but rather on the inside and how you present yourself.
Let me just say how much I adored this journal. I loved it. A lot. I know from personal experience that it can be hard growing up not looking like what society defines as beautiful and the inner struggle and self image crisis that a young girl can go through. With our society today constantly shoving in our faces at such a young age what beauty should be its hard not to get swept up in it and trying to adjust yourself accordingly. I remember in elementary school wishing that my mother would let me buy make up so that I can be beautiful like all the other girls in these magazines, TV, and my Barbie dolls. Thankfully should would not let me but the desire and heartbreak was still there wondering why my mother didn’t want me to fit in and be pretty like all the other girls. Now I know that it doesn’t matter what society or other people think of me, it’s what I think about myself and how I carry about myself with dignity. If I could go back in time I would tell myself this, however it is too late for me, but I am glad that there are people today like the women who performed this workshop, who are encouraging young girls today to challenge society norms and to deviate themselves from it and find their own definition of true beauty. Overall this journal was an amazing and inspiring read that should be shown to young girls and women everywhere.
Collins, L., Lidinsky, A., Rusnock, A., & Torstrick, R. (2012). We're Not Barbie Girls: Tweens Transform a Feminine Icon. Feminist Formations, 24(1), 102-126.