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Barbie as devil:deconstructing an american cultural icon - Essay Example

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Barbie is an icon of American culture, a touchstone with whom every woman relates. Whether her feelings are positive or negative, practically every American girl owned a Barbie if she was born after 1950…
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Barbie as devil:deconstructing an american cultural icon
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Download file to see previous pages Barbie is an icon of American culture, a touchstone with whom every woman relates. Whether her feelings are positive or negative, practically every American girl owned a Barbie if she was born after 1950. Created in the 1950s, Barbie typified the stereotyped image of the ideal woman. Even in the 1950s, she was at least a decade behind what the “true American woman” was living. Part of the love/hate relationship American women have with Barbie is that she flawlessly pursues the American dream of happiness is material wealth, all the while “perfectly” formed and always ready for a good time.Barbie has been the role model for millions of American girls. Mary Frances Rogers quotes John Greenwald in her work, Barbie Culture, that “99 per cent of all girls in the United States have at least one Barbie” (Rogers, 1999, p. 13). Unfortunately, most women believe that Barbie teaches the wrong values. Barbie’s desire for high dollar merchandise, Barbie’s hedonistic pursuit of leisure activities, Barbie’s stereotypical career choices, and Barbie’s “popularity” image all strive to teach a young girl that popularity and good looks, the “right” clothes and accessories, are all the measure of a successful woman (Nachbar, 1992, p. 212). There was so much public outcry in the 1960s and 1970s about the Barbie values that in the 1980s Mattel Corporation undertook a major campaign to update Barbie’s look and focus. ...
Barbie is credited with causing body image distortion, anorexia, bulimia and other eating disorders in young girls striving to get and maintain the “Barbie” look. (Rogers, p. 24) Chronic dieting, the desire to be thin, and the loathing of “fat people” are a universal characteristic of girls raised to emulate Barbie. Barbie is undoubtedly heterosexual. There has not been an image associated with Barbie that was gay, except for underground magazines like Mondo Barbie. Her lifelong companion is Ken, almost as perfectly built as Barbie, but not quite the same impossible standards. Barbie is also white, middle class, and without physical or mental handicaps. Although a nod was given to other races with the addition of the African American Barbie, the Native American Barbie, the Hispanic or Latina Barbie, there were only a few models introduced in these variants. The majority of Barbie dolls that come down the assembly line are white; thus Barbie “sells” not only her gender identity, but also her race. She erases all other cultures and values by ignoring them. Barbie’s perpetual age is also a cultural problem as Barbie never grows up, never gets old, doesn’t get sick, and doesn’t age. Plastic surgeons report countless women who ask for surgical remodeling so they can look like Barbie. Many women start the endless dance with the knife, and get updated every few years. What starts as a self-improvement “fix” ends up looking like a grotesque Michael Jackson. Barbie doesn’t color her hair, there has not been an issue yet of a prematurely grey Barbie, collaborating with Miss Clairol to imply gray hair is admission of age and no longer beautiful. Obviously, Barbie is a ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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