Barbie – How to be a Girl

In this week’s readings, Shirley Steinberg discussed Barbie, which is a discussion that, as a Communications major, I have heard many times before.  Still, I always find myself learning something new with each different discussion of Barbie.

Barbie teaches girls early on what it means to be a girl in today’s society, and some of these values are shown in the photos above.  These include…

Cute clothes


Getting a date with the hot guy


And having a slim body, etc.


Steinberg also points out that Barbie has no nipples or pubic hair, and Ken’s genital area isn’t exactly…well, accurate.  Personally I’m fine with that; coming from someone who loved Barbie as a kid and never had brothers, seeing a penis on a doll might have given me nightmares.  Maybe the toy creators though those things were too vulgar or tasteless for young girls to see, but Barbie having no pubic hair is interesting; back in the 1970’s, it was perfectly okay for girls to not shave their pubic hair, but now men generally want to see little to no pubic hair on grown women, whether it be romantic partners, porn stars, etc.  This shows that even today, Barbie is teaching us how to be a woman, and she doesn’t teach that solely to young girls – even adult women are being told to look like her!

Barbie has the easy life.  She has been in every time period, had every job imaginable, has the cute boy-toy (although never married him, but I did own a Wedding Barbie as a kid), and always gets the cutest cars, clothes, houses, etc.  She is also seemingly never unhappy; in books, video games, and television shows that feature Barbie, you never see her sad or angry – always happy.  Is that how girls are supposed to be, too?  Are girls just never supposed to show weakness and always be happy?  Should we just never show real emotion?

(Note: This artifact was added 4/22/2014)

Steinberg would like to see more real-life interpretations of Barbie.  Maybe not an Angry Barbie or a Crying Barbie, but maybe a Politically Active Barbie, a Prostitute Barbie, or even a Bisexual Barbie.  Times are changing, and we are seeing many more of these people in our day and age now than when Barbie was first introduced.  Should these kinds of Barbie dolls be put on display to expose our children to the realness of our world that is not all sunshine and rainbows, or are kids too young to see these kinds of things?

Steinberg tries not to go into how Barbie portrays unrealistic body expectations since so many others have already discussed this.  However, you actually can look like her – with enough plastic surgery.

Barbie model

This is Valeria Lukyanova, otherwise known as the Real-Life Barbie.  The Ukranian model has had breast implants and uses fake contacts in order to give her the bust and the eyes of the infamous Barbie doll.  She has reportedly had Botox, a chin liposuction, and spray tans.  Also, she says she is undergoing hypnotherapy in order to become brainless.  She claims she gets her slim body from daily exercise and a strict diet, which has now been revealed to be breatharianism, the belief that food and water are not necessary.  She claims that she is able to live off of just air and light, so she does not consume food or water.  This is a belief that has been around for quite some time now and, needless to say, it is not the healthiest way to live.

Here’s the real kicker: she had a huge doll collection as a kid.  Her aspiration to look like a real-life doll, though, is very startling.  This is an extreme case of a girl’s fascination with dolls going too far.  We can only hope that young girls see this as a bad thing, and not something to look up to.


One thought on “Barbie – How to be a Girl

  1. Kelly,
    I think you did a really good job bringing in your own personal examples and connecting those with what we have learned throughout the semester. I really enjoyed your latest post and think you posed a great point when you said that the changes of society are what will influence the different Barbie’s created in the future, and the threshold of what is deemed appropriate or not. I think you had interesting ideas about this topic, and it showed through your thorough analysis of the information.
    You did an excellent job incorporating the class readings with your pop culture examples, and you had an abundance of examples that really assisted in the understanding of the information. In one of your posts when you discussed television sitcoms and what it means to be a family, and you used the Brady Bunch as an example, you wrote how it was an unrealistic lifestyle for the family to be able to earn enough money to support their family. I think that insight was a very important concept to take away from watching the show, because as young children watching it is viewed more as a desire to be like the Brady family, but is that really attainable? No, probably not. Thank you for making my wheels turn and think about different themes these shows portray, and then offering excellent real world examples to support your ideologies.
    All of your information was clear and well written. I enjoyed reading all of your blog postings, and greatly respect the ideologies that you offered to your readers. They were very insightful and covered the class material quite well. It is evident that you understand the readings and you showed that through your creative examples.

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