Tag: Body image

New Age Barbie- Identity Found in “Flaws” by Brittany N Cozzens

This past week we have heard a lot from our peers about their experiences and thoughts on one of the world’s most popular toys, Barbie. Through the different readings we have learned that Barbie’s introduction to the world forever changed the way that women identify themselves and their material goods.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 12.34.45 PMIn Forever Barbie, by M.G. Lord, we learn that Barbie, released in 1959, was meant to be revolutionary.  She was supposed to show young girls and women how to be independent and become their own woman, and invent yourself in whatever way you choose (Lord 9). However, what we have learned through discussions and through other readings such as Pearson and Mullins “Domesticating Barbie: An Archaeology of Barbie Material Culture and Domestic Ideology” is that Barbie’s identity is found more so in the things she possess and what she wears rather that what she does. By having one of the worlds most popular toys promoting a message of material culture to kids of today, we are showing them that identity formation is solely found in perfectionism- by looking perfect and having all the right things.

However, we all know that no matter how hard we try being perfect is not possible. New age Barbie, Lammily has set out to challenge Barbie and show that identity is found in flaws and embracing who you really are.

Screen Shot 2015-03-12 at 12.19.28 PMLammily was created in 2014 by designer Nickolay Lamm who wanted to create a doll that was realistic for the size of an average 19 year old- she has a more realistic waistline, feet are flat unlike Barbie which are solely meant to wear heels, and she even has sticker that can be purchased that include tattoos, cellulite, stretch marks, acne, and scars.

This doll shows young girls that being you doesn’t mean being perfect. Flaws are part of life and make up who we are.

While Lord may argue that Barbie was a break through for women because she could “invent herself with a costume change” (9), Lammily shows that having the right outfit isn’t what makes you who you are. Material culture perpetuated through Barbie over the years has sent the wrong message to young girls about identity formation. It’s not about what you have it’s about owning your so called “flaws” and embracing them as who you actually are.

I hope that Lammily takes off for future generations, or maybe that Barbie could me modeled more like her. To say that a child’s toy doesn’t have an impact on identity formation or gender roles is a lie. Whether young kids realize it or not, these toys are forming the foundation for future beliefs. Having a realistic looking doll that isn’t consumed with looking perfect and having everything could help in helping women attain their independence at a young age as Barbie was supposed to do when she came out in 1959.


The Downward Fall of Barbie by Angie Indik

Toy popularity tends to by cyclical. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle action figures fgshshand accessories were a phenomenon in the early 1990s. As a former Toys R Us employee (Yes, I worked there that long ago!) I recall it was hard to keep them in stock. Every young boy seemed to want one. Yet, as with all trends, the TMNT craze eventually died out and Toys R Us stopped selling these products. Since 2009, however, the Turtles had a resurgence and the line sold $475 million worldwide in toys between 2009-2013 (Szalai). Furbies were another huge hit in the 1990s, albeit late 90s, where interest eventually died out and then reemerged some years later. There are probably dozens of other examples of popular toys booming, disappearing and then coming back with a vengeance. There is one line of products, however, that never seemed to falter in the 1990s and that was Barbie.

The Barbie dolls and accessories sold consistently well throughout the decade. In fsfhfact, her popularity grew as time went on. The Barbie line was once displayed in one aisle and suddenly these toys took up close to three aisles worth. It consumed half of what was considered the girls section. In order to make room for the fashion icon, the section displaying toy vacuums, brooms and ovens shrunk. The baby doll area was condensed. It might have appeared to be a victory for feminism as toys associated with housework dwindled. As the Barbie section grew at Toys R Us, perhaps it was a reflection of the modern, independent woman. After all, Barbie was not subjected just to home life. She had endless possibilities. She was a doctor, a pilot, an equestrian and the list goes on. Barbie was in demand and there was no stopping her. That is, until recently.

It has been reported that Mattel’s Barbie sales have dropped consistently in the last three years (Kell). One can blame the popularity of Disney’s Frozen toys for causing Barbie’s downward slope. Maybe it was the allure of American Girl dolls that affected Barbie sales as well. I personally do not believe either is true. I simply think people have fallen out of love with Barbie. Judging from my facebook newsfeed, many people are tired of unachievable body standards for women. I find posts complaining about photoshopped  images in fashion magazines or touting how wonderful the tree change girls are. (See http://treechangedolls.tumblr.com/ if you are unfamiliar.) There is this demand that people want realistic images of females whether it is in a magazine or as a doll. So, the idea that a girl can grow up and be a doctor or a pilot is a realistic one. The notion that a girl will become an adult with a sixteen inch waist, not so much. While it looked like the popularity of Barbie in the 1990s was never-ending, it appears even the queen of toys has a shelf life too. Maybe she will have a resurgence just like TMNT or Furby, but I have a feeling she will need a makeover for that. Only time will tell.

Work Cited

Gray, Emma. Photo. “Barbie Body Would Be Pretty Odd Looking in Real Life.” Huffington Post. 13 Apr. 2013. 12 Mar. 2015. <http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/10/barbie-body-real-life-infographic_n_3057690.html>

Kell, John. “Mattel’s Barbie Sales Down for a Third Consecutive Year.” Forbes. 30 Jan. 2015. 12 Mar. 2015. < http://fortune.com/2015/01/30/mattels-barbie-sales-drop-third-year/>

Szalai Georg.”London Expo: Nickelodeon Touts $474 Million in Retail Sales for Relaunched Turtles Franchise.” The Hollywood Reporter. 18 Oct. 2013.  12 Mar. 2015.   <http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/london-expo-nickelodeon-touts-475-649396>

Vieira, Anthony. Photo. “TMNT Character Design Details: Traditional Turtles and Comical Shredder?”4 Jan. 2014. 12 Mar. 2015.  <http://screenrant.com/tmnt-movie-reboot-character-design-details/>