Barbie on ‘ultra-femininity’

“Body image develops in the context of sociocultural factors, such as unrealistic media images of female beauty. In a study of 136 U.K. girls aged 11–16, experimental exposure to either ultra-thin or average-size magazine models lowered body satisfaction and, consequently, self-esteem.” (p.1)

Clay, D., LVignoles, V. and Dittmar, H. (2005). Body Image And Self-Esteem Among Adolescent Girls: Testing The Influence Of Sociocultural Factors.Journal Of Research On Adolescence 15(4).

Not only is the media affecting girls in the 11-16 bracket but those even younger when they play with dolls like the Barbie. Not only does it lower their self esteem but it also encourages people to try to emulate this look and feel dissatisfied if they can not achieve it. Through plastic surgery to create a slimmer waistline, toned legs or larger breasts or even just the feminine lifestyle that the dolls represent. Rogers says,

“Barbie demonstrates that femininity is a manufactured reality” which “entails a lot of artifice, a lot of clothes, a lot of props such as cuddly poodles and shopping bags, and a lot of effort” (p.95).

Rogers, Mary F.(2003) “Hetero Barbie?”Gender, Race, and Class in Media: A Text-Reader. Eds.Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications,94-97.Print.

Therefore, through the Barbie doll and these media images, we are creating a sort of ‘fake’ reality and creating an artificial beauty. People are going to extreme levels to try to create their high maintenance beauty regimes. For example, fake nails, hair extensions, cosmetic procedures, plastic surgery, fake tan, eyebrow tattoos and much more.

Roger’s in her book, “Barbie Culture” suggests how Barbie gives people this warped view.

“Role models then? Role models are made of such ‘idealizations’ and exaggerations. They inspire and energize us, partly because we know virtually nothing about their limits or failings. Barbie functions, it would seem, as one role model among many whereby young girls learn that their looks are central to their femininity as well as their desirability and worthwhileness. Many, perhaps most, girls escape the full brunt of the message, but few are unscathed by it. Everything we know about body-image distortion, chronic dieting, and loathing of fat bodies, for instance, points to considerable consistency among females across social classes, age groups, sexual orientations, and racial and ethic groups to an extent. To be sexy and attractive means,then, to be more like than unlike Barbie”  (p.24)

Rogers,M.F. (1999) Barbie Culture. London Thousand Oaks: SAGE Publications.

I will be taking more photographs using the Barbie as a representation of this beauty that we are trying to achieve.

There have been some extreme news stories which show extreme plastic surgery to achieve ‘Barbie’s looks’.



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