Rethinking Barbie

The redesigns of Barbie include a tall thin black Barbie, an average height plus size white barbie with blue hair, a tall thin white barbie with brunette hair, a short thin latino barbie, a tall thin red-head barbie and an average height plus size blonde barbie.
Barbie’s New Image

By Brianna Love

Today’s Barbie doll is often seen as an “anti-feminist” doll. It’s argued that she body shames women into thinking that her figure is the “ideal” of how a woman is supposed to look.

On the contrary, Barbie actually started out as a symbol for feminism. She was the first doll to exist that wasn’t a baby doll. It was society’s first doll that didn’t teach young girls how to nurture and become caregivers.

Barbie also allowed girls to imagine having a variety of occupations. Throughout history, it taught young girls that they could become anything, including but not limited to: an astronaut, a lawyer, a teacher, or an athlete.

With the onslaught of feminist critique, the makers of Barbie are currently concerned with the low sales of the dolls. This is due to the body image the dolls are portraying.

Over time, Barbie has evolved into a series of “ideals” that mothers no longer want to showcase to their young daughters.

Her “un-relatable” hourglass figure. Her long blonde hair. Her bright blue eyes, and her perky breasts appear as what society calls the “perfect woman.”

            “Moms are probably the most important influence on a daughter’s body image. Even if a mom says to the daughter, ‘You look so beautiful, but I’m so fat,’ it can be detrimental.”

Parents sometimes don’t realize how much children observe and learn while they are still growing.

I grew up with a mom and grandma who would diet fairly often. While I was always a petite girl, I still have that nagging voice in my head saying I need to “eat better and exercise more.” It was just the type of environment I was raised in.

We are so quick to blame television, the radio, famous icons, and anyone else other than ourselves. Granted, those mediums of information do play a role in how society views things. However, they are not the sole instigator.

            If the traditional Barbie was a real woman, she would be 5’9”, have a 39-inch bust, an 18-inch waist, 33-inch hips, wear a size 3 in shoes, and weigh about 120 pounds. This “perfect” body image would likely result in A LOT of health issues. For instance, the woman described would likely not be able to menstruate at all.

This was NEVER the common body image, but it was the “ideal” body image. Therefore, it gives an unrealistic expectation to young girls. One in 100 thousand women are born with this body type.  But, should we be body shaming the girls that are thinner or bigger than Barbie?

CJ
Cindy Jackson in 1979 vs. 2014

In 2016, the average American girl between the ages of 3 and 11 owned approximately 11 Barbie dolls. All were the same size, so that they could share Barbie clothes.

 

Barbie’s body image influenced Cindy Jackson so much that she underwent over 20 different cosmetic surgeries so that she would fit the Barbie body image. In 2006, she was named, “Britain’s most surgically altered woman.”

            “Why should we live in a face that’s foisted on us from birth? We choose our clothes, our hair-colouring. Why not our face?”- Cindy Jackson

Cosmetic surgery is a heated topic among feminists, in regard to whether it’s right or wrong. Some feminists think that we should be able to do whatever we want with our bodies. Including altering them into the way we want them to look. Others argue that cosmetic surgeons, “ruthlessly prey on women’s body insecurities.”

No matter where you stand on the issue, it’s safe to say that idolizing a plastic toy so much, that they spend millions of dollars to look like it, is a little overboard.

Kim Culmone, VP designer at Mattel, said, “Barbie’s body was never designed to be realistic. She was designed for girls to easily dress and undress.”

Barbie was supposed to be a fantasy for little girls. The dolls were meant to be a tool for young girls to imagine more for their lives–other than the expectations to get married, have children, take care of the house, etc.

The company that created Barbie, Mattel, is now redesigning Barbie to be all different sizes: short and tall, a variety of waist sizes, and a variety of ethnicities. They are completely rethinking the image of Barbie.

Mattel struggled with deciding to redesign such a traditional figure, because in past test marketing groups, the children did not like the new variety of dolls. They wanted them to look like the traditional Barbie.

Hulu recently released a documentary on the process of redesigning Barbie. This documentary is called, Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie.

In this documentary, Mattel tells the history of Barbie and how she has evolved.

“Tiny Shoulders: Rethinking Barbie, examines the world’s most popular doll, from her humble origins to her controversial persona today. In her 59 years, Barbie has become a fashion icon, a lightning rod, and a target for feminists. This documentary reveals unprecedented access to the inner workings of a toy giant during Barbie’s biggest reinvention.” –IMDb

After watching the insightful documentary, my view of Barbie has changed. I think she was just misunderstood and a little delayed in evolving with society.

 

Women Can Express Their Sexuality Too

A picture of a burlesque showgirl wearing a sequenced pink and silver lingerie outfit and holding pink feathers.
A Burlesque Showgirl

By Brianna Love

(Content Warning: Sexual Activities are discussed in this post.)

 

As a young woman, I am faced with the question…

Am I “allowed” to express my sexuality in the way that men typically do?

It is traditional for men to be very open about their sex life and for women to be conservative. This tradition is not necessarily bad, as long as it is a personal choice without societal pressures.

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You Don’t Own Me

Picture of singer Lesley Gore
Picture of Lesley Gore

By Brianna Love

I have a friend who has recently had an argument with her boyfriend.

You see, she was in a sorority a year before he joined a fraternity.

Before he joined a fraternity, the rule was that she couldn’t go to socials with fraternities since he wasn’t able to go with her.

Which she had no problem with, because he wasn’t going to socials at sororities without her. However, the week he pledged to a fraternity, the rules changed for him.

She still wasn’t allowed to go to fraternity socials, but he was allowed to go to sorority socials. This is when she wasn’t okay with the “rule.”

When she brought it to his attention, they argued for hours…

This is pretty typical in any relationship.

The male tends to set up double standards in the relationship. For example, a guy can go to a strip club and get a lap dance for his birthday, but God forbid a girl go to the bars with her friends to have a good time.

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Schools & Gender Inequality

An illustration of a little boy playing with a toy car and a little girl playing with a doll.
Gender Stereotype

By Brianna Love

I had just started my junior year of high school. It was my first year in a public school, for I had been practically raised in a private Christian school. Due to the fact that I went to a private school, I had always worn school uniforms. Therefore, I didn’t know what was “acceptable clothing” to wear at public schools. I had worn a tank top, ripped jeans, and flip flops. It was nothing I would consider “sexy.” I didn’t think it was distracting. However, the campus security stopped me on my way to class. They took me to their office and said that the tank top was a violation of dress code and I had the option to: (1) call a parent and wait for them to bring me something else to wear, (2) spend the rest of the day in their office, or (3) have a parent take me home. That didn’t seem fair to me. My education was being inhibited because my shoulders were “too distracting” to the men in my classes.

Ever since then, the question haunts me…

Why is there a double standard between males and females when it comes to dress code?

This was a big issue for me because the reason behind the rule that they gave to me was that it “distracts the male students from their education.”

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Everyone’s Responsibility

Logo for the University of Idaho that says "University of Idaho in gold lettering
U of I logo

By Brianna Love

It’s no secret that there is a lot of drama on the University of Idaho campus right now.  Students are protesting. Students are irritated. Students want their voices to be heard and they want a say in how they are treated on this campus. Things are starting to heat up, and if the students don’t get their way, it may become an even bigger issue.

If you’ve been keeping up with the UI Women’s Center blog, then you already know about the drama surrounding Rob Spear and how the university is handling it. If you are confused, here is a basic rundown:

About five years ago, a female swimmer for the University of Idaho reported sexual assault allegations against a football player to the Athletic Director, Rob Spear. Spear decided to not report it to the Dean of Students Office and claimed because the assault happened off campus, there was nothing he could do to help her. It wasn’t until the female athlete went to the UI Women’s Center that the Dean of Students Office was informed. To this day, Rob Spear is still the athletic director at U of I and has only apologized this year due to pressure from the media. Groups of students have voiced their opinions and signed petitions  stating that they want Spear fired.

There is obviously more to the story; however, this is what is causing all the ruckus on campus.

The issue is not necessarily with the university itself. When it was reported to the Dean of Students Office, things were sort of taken care of. The issue is also not with the athletic department as a whole. The issue is with Rob Spear and why the university has not terminated his employment after 5 years.

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Vandal Family Values

University of Idaho mascot Joe Vandal marching with the marching band behind him.
University of Idaho mascot, Joe Vandal, and the marching band

By Brianna Love

When I was a prospective student for the University of Idaho, I was told that U of I was safe. I was told that this is a great school because we are “one big family.” On the web site it says,

“UI is committed to creating a safe environment for the UI community and those who visit.”

I thought that the university cared about me as one of their students. I thought that I was seen for who I am–not just as a dollar sign. So, in my pre-college mind, if I were to be harmed in any way as one of their students, I assumed the U of I would be there for me.

When incoming freshman start their journey at U of I, they are essentially moving to a new home. They become part of the “Vandal Family.” (At least that is how they feel.) It’s exactly how I felt. U of I was my new home. The Vandals were my family. I would never expect one of them to intentionally hurt me, and if they did, I expected the university to handle it properly…

If we are a family, why wouldn’t you want to protect and stand up for every member?

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Drinking & Safety on Spring Break

Image of a group of students in swim suits on a spring break trip at the beach.
Spring Breakers

By Brianna Love

With University of Idaho’s Spring Break just a week away, it seems fitting to address the activities and dangers that come with it. Binge drinking, embarrassment, sexual assault, kidnapping, trafficking, and various other dangers are always lurking in the corner.

A stereotypical, college spring break could either be the best or the worst time of your life. The primary contributor to students regretting their spring break is binge drinking.

What exactly is binge drinking?

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