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.

Reference

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.

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Comments

I am really relate to this subject too and I think I should read this book too. When I heard about how women are exploited, it makes me sick. I can’t believe that it is still a hard pressure on women in our kind of “evaluated” society. Feminists have made a lot of change for women and give them tones of new rights but the image of a “perfect polyvalent Barbie” women is still there. So we can conclude that things have changed but it remains the same. The author Jean Kilbourne has produced a series named “Killing Us Softly” about American advertising. The fourth of the series is about “advertising’s image of woman”. I am glad that there are some people that feel concerned about this. In fact, it is not just a woman’s concern, it is all’s. Maybe if we change how women looked in publicities, people’s mind will change and we could somehow get rid of certain diseases like bulimia or anorexia. We should really take the perception of woman by media seriously and join together to change this fake and almost impossible image floating in too much ads.

Where you could buy the DVD: http://www.mediaed.org/cgi-bin/commerce.cgi?preadd=action&key=241

I took the time to read this journal, and I also agree, I love this journal. I too believe that even though the “Barbie” image girls are shown and influenced to follow has changed over time that the effect it has on girls starting at a young age hasn’t changed. Today, the media, advertisements on television and social networking sites, and ads and billboards, are constantly influences girls. Girls from such a young age as 10, are pressured to be as pretty, skinny and perfect as a Victoria Secret model; perfect hair, eyes, body, figure. Shampoo, underwear, and clothing ads are put on the television to influence girls to go buy their product, and they tell us that if we buy their product, we’ll look like the models that are advertising the product. I can also relate to the fact that when I was a little girl, I would beg my mom to buy me makeup and clothes to look like the girls I saw on the ads and posters and television shows, and my mom wouldn’t let me. I also know from personal experience, that when I saw all these adds and television shows with these beautiful girls, I didn’t look like these beautiful girls. I’m Vietnamese, and I became inferior to these models and Barbie dolls because I didn’t have blonde hair, blue eyes and a perfect figure, and all I wished for when I was a kid, was to look like them. As I got older, I began to realize that looking like those girls wasn’t as important as I thought, just that the media and the advertisements made it out to be that important. I too, agree that this was an inspiring read, and that as society continues to change the social ideas of what girls should look like, every girl should know that they’re beautiful, and they don’t have to look like a Victoria Secret Model or a Barbie doll, to be beautiful.

The media is the main perpetrator of this toxic idea of having to be perfect which comes along with the ideas of having to be skinny, fit, and beautiful. I really enjoyed reading this blog, because I am also a girl who has had to struggle with society’s portrayal of being perfect and to look like a Barbie. As far back as I can remember, I would always play with Barbie’s and dress them up and want to grow up looking just like them. We as women of our society are pressured to achieve this ideal body image and beauty of all the images presented to us in ads, magazines, TV shows and even the toys we play with at such a young age. The women that are socially created by society that we are 'supposed' to look like are physically impossible to achieve, because of technology that can alter their images. Before we even reach our teen years many young girls even boys have tried something to alter their body image by either dieting, makeup, shaving, manicures, clothes and the list goes on. We should never have to worry about what other people think about how we look it should always be about who is on the inside. Why don’t advertisers focus on intelligent, honest, and nice girls and boys? I found some great YouTube videos that pertain to this subject by a girl named Laci Green who is 23 years old. She does a great job explaining what media does to us and how we can stay away from this addictive lifestyle. Here are some links below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik19cU1UKb4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X21X_aYS4i4

The media is the main perpetrator of this toxic idea of having to be perfect which comes along with the ideas of having to be skinny, fit, and beautiful. I really enjoyed reading this blog, because I am also a girl who has had to struggle with society’s portrayal of being perfect and to look like a Barbie. As far back as I can remember, I would always play with Barbie’s and dress them up and want to grow up looking just like them. We as women of our society are pressured to achieve this ideal body image and beauty of all the images presented to us in ads, magazines, TV shows and even the toys we play with at such a young age. The women that are socially created by society that we are 'supposed' to look like are physically impossible to achieve, because of technology that can alter their images. Before we even reach our teen years many young girls even boys have tried something to alter their body image by either dieting, makeup, shaving, manicures, clothes and the list goes on. We should never have to worry about what other people think about how we look it should always be about who is on the inside. Why don’t advertisers focus on intelligent, honest, and nice girls and boys? I found some great YouTube videos that pertain to this subject by a girl named Laci Green who is 23 years old. She does a great job explaining what media does to us and how we can stay away from this addictive lifestyle. Here are some links below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik19cU1UKb4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X21X_aYS4i4

The media is the main perpetrator of this toxic idea of having to be perfect which comes along with the ideas of having to be skinny, fit, and beautiful. I really enjoyed reading this blog, because I am also a girl who has had to struggle with society’s portrayal of being perfect and to look like a Barbie. As far back as I can remember, I would always play with Barbie’s and dress them up and want to grow up looking just like them. We as women of our society are pressured to achieve this ideal body image and beauty of all the images presented to us in ads, magazines, TV shows and even the toys we play with at such a young age. The women that are socially created by society that we are 'supposed' to look like are physically impossible to achieve, because of technology that can alter their images. Before we even reach our teen years many young girls even boys have tried something to alter their body image by either dieting, makeup, shaving, manicures, clothes and the list goes on. We should never have to worry about what other people think about how we look it should always be about who is on the inside. Why don’t advertisers focus on intelligent, honest, and nice girls and boys? I found some great YouTube videos that pertain to this subject by a girl named Laci Green who is 23 years old. She does a great job explaining what media does to us and how we can stay away from this addictive lifestyle. Here are some links below.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ik19cU1UKb4
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X21X_aYS4i4

This article is very interesting to me because I have three nieces and a little sister who are all under four, and I see the beginnings of internalizing the need to be pretty and perfect. Although I used to play with Barbie dolls constantly when I was little, I never realized that the Barbie culture was so pervasive. My one niece sings to the current Barbie theme song when she hears it, and I have heard many people complain that you cannot buy anything for a little girl these days without the images of Barbie or Disney princesses present. To very little girls, these cartoon depictions seem equivalent to the models and celebrities that older girls look at, and I have read a lot about the consequences of that phenomenon. Little girls actively internalize this. It’s sickening that mass media is drilling this into their heads starting from such a young age. That same niece that sings the Barbie song received some scars on her face from a dog a while back, and for a week after, every time I told her she beautiful she would get sad and say "not anymore." I do not know if these specific depictions played a role in that, but just the possibility that they could is really upsetting. The most troubling aspect of this issue for me is the “White American girl” depiction, and especially the quote about Barbie having “blue eyes and blonde hair so she is the leader.” The Americanized images that depict the perfect white female as “the leader” could be really bad for the self-esteems for the girls who do not fit that depiction. That is on top of the generic body image issues that Barbie already brings forward. I am glad people are starting to look at this as not just innocent play, but the beginning of a lasting issue.

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