Barbie…what does she mean to you?

I just did a very interesting interview for a Swedish radio station.  The reporter was interested to know what Barbie meant to America?  What has she meant to you?  Did you play with Barbie?  Believe she is a positive role model? Encourage your daughters to play with her?

6 thoughts on “Barbie…what does she mean to you?

  1. What did the reporter say about the Swedish view of Barbie? What does Barbie represent about us around the world?

    That would be interesting to know.

    Is she about the stereotypical life style people associate with American’s and and Entertainment Nightly mentality? IS she about consumerism and never being finished buying all the pieces?

  2. I should have asked that question! I was just sort of amazed by the whole Swedish radio–not a market we have been in before! He also asked whether Barbie follows our culture or if she is the trend setter…
    I think in terms of fashion she is a trend setter–remember I needed those white go-go boots because my only Barbie had them? But she also reflects us–last year’s TV CHEF BARBIE–certainly follows the trend of Rachel Ray and others…not the other way around.

  3. Hmmm…. Barbie definitely had an impact on me as a child. I had the whole “Malibu Barbie” gang — Ken, Barbie, PJ, and two duplicate “twin” Skippers, complete with those 1970s-era sunglasses which were attached to their white-blond heads. Barbie and her crew spent many happy hours on my back deck in the Country Camper and Beach Bus — complete with all necessary gear to make Barbie & friends’ outdoor experiences memorable…

    I believe the research that says that the Barbie-body ideal led to a generation (probably several generations) of girls who feel fat, no matter what their pants size tag says. As I bought a pair of size 2 crop pants at the Gap this weekend, I stood looking in the three-way mirror outside the dressing room checking to see how “fat” I looked in them. Of course, anyone who doesn’t look like the Barbie ideal looks pretty hefty — but I tried to be rationale and thought to myself, “Gee. Size 2. I guess maybe I’m not as fat as I look.” And I slapped my credit card down on the counter and walked out with them.

    Malibu Barbie & her friends’ influence affects me every day to this day… At age 44, I’m having my fourth skin cancer removed by a plastic surgeon next Tuesday. Of course, back in the 1970s, it was every girl’s dream to acquire “the savage tan” — to get that Malibu-Barbie glow. Today, I slather on sun-screen daily, and gaze into the mirror at those little lines around my eyes — Cursing Santa for ever having brought me that sun-kissed, 11-inch ideal of modern womanhood…

    I wonder what the women of 2040 will be saying about the Bratz?

  4. I should start off by saying that I am an 18 year old female who used to play with Barbies probably daily as a child…Ok, even a little as a pre-teen. Back then, I didn’t think of Barbie as a model of any kind, really. I realized the different kinds I was playing with (dancer, ballerina, doctor, shopaholic, etc.), but I don’t believe that influenced the way I felt about myself and my position as a female. For me, Barbies had nothing to do with body image, they were simply dolls in which I made a character in my made-up “stories” that I would have them act out. For example, Barbie would be a person that would plan a pool party for her and her friends that weekend.

    But, being older now, I can understand how the tiny, hourglass “body” preoccupied with fashion and scoring a date with Ken can negatively influence the way young girls feel about themselves and their role(s) within society. This is going on way too long (my response and the marketing of such toys) but I would like to add that Barbies are no different for girls than big, tough action figures are for boys…except that action figures usually include some weapon, they’re super buff, promote violence, etc.

    The types of toys being bought and sold don’t really seem to be changing, so will they ever? Can levels of self-esteem and body image get worse/lower? Does it need to in order for change to happen? When it comes down to it, it’s not about toys at all; toys are just the surface of the larger issue. It boils down to socialization before we are even born and all along the way. When our parents find out they’re having a girl they paint the nursery pink, when they find out it’s a boy, they buy a can of blue paint and soccer ball shaped pillows. We are conditioned by expectations before we even have a say, so what do you expect when we feed it by buying certain toys, practicing certain behaviors and feeling certain ways? As John Stossel says, “Give me a break!”

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