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By Mary F. Rogers

This e-book makes use of probably the most well known components of formative years, the Barbie doll, to give an explanation for key facets of cultural meaning.

Some readings may see Barbie as reproducing ethnicity and gender in a very coarse and harmful manner - a cultural icon of racism and sexism. Rogers develops a broader, more difficult photograph. She indicates how the cultural which means of Barbie is extra ambiguous than the slim, appearance-dominated version that's attributed to the doll. For a begin, Barbie's sexual id isn't really uncomplicated. equally her type state of affairs is ambiguous. yet all interpretations agree that, together with her huge, immense diversity of way of life `accessories', Barbie exists to devour. Her physique is the best metaphor of recent occasions: plastic, st

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Extra resources for Barbie Culture

Sample text

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 that 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 ethnic groups to an extent.

All these possibilities make room for gay­ themed story lines in Barbie Bazaar and much else. Jeffrey, a Marsden student, would expect no less. " Less pointedly, Steve Presnell of Elizabethtown, Tennessee, writes in a letter to Barbie Bazaar Oanuary / February 1996): I am a new collector of Barbie dolls. I always thought they were great but that only "feminine" guys collected them. When my fiancee found some old Barbie dolls from her childhood and a collector offered us a large sum of money, I was sold.

Like the knowledge of our own mortality when we are young and healthy, the knowledge that Cher's physical appearance is fabricated is an empty abstraction; it simply does not compute. It is the created image that has the hold on our most vibrant, immediate sense of what is, of what we must pursue for ourselves. (1993: 104) What Bordo points to is the difference between knowing something as a matter of fact and knowing it as a matter of practice. Most of us know that Cher's body is substantially the product of cosmetic surgeons sculpting her body to specifica­ tions of no sagging, no wrinkles, and no flab.

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