Friday, May 28, 2010

Barbie..Even She is Considered to be Fat!

Jennie is not your average girl. She is 5 years old and lives in Woodlawn, NY. Her family is one of hardworking individuals but still do not make more than the average for her housing area. When shopping for toys Jennie is persuaded to want baby dolls, house play sets, Barbie’s, fair princess dolls, and dress up sets. The main things that all of these toys have in common they all share the same-targeted gender. These toys are always targeted to girls of any age because they are showing them that they should grow up with a baby doll and love to dress up like little princesses.

 In Newman’s article he states, “Saturday morning television commercials or a toy manufacturer's catalog or web site reveals that toys and games remain solidly segregated along gender lines. Decades of research indicate that” girls' toys" still revolve around theme~ of domesticity, fashion, and motherhood and "boys’ toys" emphasize action and adventure” (Newman, 112). This trend of segregated toys is still seen in toy stores today especially Toys R’Us. Upon entering the store it is clear which sections appeal to which gender. In Barbie land the isles are pink and filled with dolls, clothes, princess tiaras and more. On the other side of the store it is clearly focused on little boys with blue isles filled with legos, GI Joe action figures, and hot wheels.

 Jennie does not resemble the toys that she is shopping for because unlike Jennie many of the dolls and toys that she likes are white. Jennie is Latino and none of the Barbie dolls that she likes to play with are. Her mother allows them because of the convenient price and Jennie likes to play pretend with Ken and other Barbie products and friends. When looking at the Barbie section the only dolls which somewhat resemble Jennie are the “Rockawear” Barbie line. These dolls are to be considered “ghetto” with their Rockawear clothes and long dark hair along with a darker skin color.

 When looking at socioeconomic status in relation to Barbie’s they are considered to be desirable to all economic statuses. The Barbie dolls range in price from $5.99 to $14.99. This price range allows children of all economic statuses to purchase them and Barbie dolls are available in various locations and have a large age range appeal for kids. When comparing Barbies to Cabbage Patch Dolls, there is a large differential in price. Cabbage Patch Dolls start at a price of $29.99 and are really only targeted toward very young children who like to play with baby dolls. Cabbage Patch Kids are not toys that children from less privileged households can grow with, continue to play with, or even purchase. Because of price points, Barbie is considered to be a good deal for children of all ages and economic status.

 Although Barbie is a great value for little girls who love to play with dolls, she isn’t considered to be the best role model according to Hesse-Biber. In The Cult of Thinness it was stated that, “ The Mattel Company describes her as having “white makeup, a traditional hairstyle, white socks and Japanese sandals, she is the picture of femininity” (Hesse-Biber, 43). This idea of being the “picture of femininity” is what is being marketed toward little girls. No matter what Barbie is put out by Mattel she will always be described as “cute” or “pretty”. This idea is what little girls of various ages want to be like because Barbie shows them that they can be a doctor, veterinarian, surgeon, or even an aerobics instructor. Although half of these careers are not typically targeted toward woman Barbie makes them appealing because she is always “cute” while doing them with her feminine outfits.

 Barbie promotes the idea that kids can be anything they want to be. Yes, Barbie does promote an unhealthy body image because she is 5’6” with extra large breasts, extremely long legs, no hips or genitals, and a waist that is considered to be thinner than a lady from the Victorian age (Hesse-Biber, 43). This ideal body type is extremely rare and in reality not able to be achieved. Because of this, Barbie may not be considered to be the best role model for young girls. Although, Barbie’s price value cannot be beaten, the ideals that she represents should not be looked up to by little girls.

 In recent years Barbie continued to change and all changes were generally related to her body image. In 2009 Barbie was re-designed by famous designer Christian Louboutin because her ankles were considered too large and her feet were too fat. Christian stated that Barbie should not have “cankles” the fat ankles were what Christian was stating to be undesirable or unattractive. In many cases this leaves the question if Barbie is not considered perfect in today’s society who is and will any girl or woman be able to live up to the unrealistic and unhealthy standards?

 Works Cited

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy. The Cult of Thinness. New York: Oxford UP, 2007. 32-60. Print.

Newman, David M. Identities and Inequalities: Exploring the Intersections of Race, Class, Gender, and Sexuality. Boston: McGraw-Hill, 2006. Print.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Female Body Lotion: Selling Products or Body Perfection

Body lotion and creams are available in every shape and form. Today not only is there skin firming creams and lotions but everyday new products are developed from body butters to body serums all claiming to be the new and greatest product on the market. When examining body lotion, one overwhelming theme from their marketing campaigns sticks out. This is the fact that they are using women in their ads to appeal to women. Generally the women used in the ads would be seen to appeal to women but because they are shown to have perfect skin from using that particular product many women want that lotion.

In a case study done by Kirkham and Weller they stated, “ These beautiful illustrations connect the reader/viewer to the process of self beautification, to the making of feminine…The woman reader can equate the beauty, sexuality, or pleasure she will achieve with the aesthetics and attributes of the product” (Kirkham & Weller, 271). This quote describes the fact that these ads are selling the image of perfectly firm skin, or long lean cellulite free legs. The words and descriptions on the ads are generally looked over and the real item that sells the product is the image. The image of the model with the perfect skin is what makes the product appealing. In the various ads, which are selling lotion you notice that all sell the idea that perfect skin which is generally wrinkle fee, sag free, and perfectly luminous. This skin is generally unobtainable and in many cases will not be achieved through these products.

In the article by Sut Jhally it was stated, “The problem with the institutional structure of a market society that propels definition of satisfaction through the commodity/image system. The modern context, then, provides a curious satisfaction experience- one that William Leiss describes as “an ensemble of satisfaction and dissatisfactions” in which the consumption of commodities mediated by the image system of advertising leads to consumer uncertainty and confusion… yet we only have the pleasure of the image to sustain us in our actual experience with the goods” (Jhally 251-251). This quotes basically describes the fact that the images that are being used in the ads are not able to live up to the goals, which are promised by the product. This fact that the products are unable to live up to the expectations from the advertisements confuse the consumer. The idea that these women can have perfect luminous skin from using these products is the image that these women are trying to live up to. After using these products many women find themselves dissatisfied and generally move on to the next appealing and newest cream marketed to women.

Works Cited
Jhally, Sut. "Image-Based Culture: Advertising & Popular Culture." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 249-57. Print.
Kirkham & Weller. "Cosmetics: A Clinique Case Study." Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, 2003. 268-73. Print
Photo Credits

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Pink's "Stupid Girls": Poking fun at Stereotypes

In today’s culture music videos have become a staple for expressing views and opinions. They act as a form of artistic expression to help artists bring their lyrics alive. In many cases they express views about stereotypes, social norms, and express views on hegemony. Hegemony is often seen as the views and ideals expressed by a dominating social group in which they are able to gain and maintain power over a weaker group. In many cases the dominating group is seen as the media in any form. In the music video “Stupid Girls” by Pink she uses her views on femininity and masculinity to express how she feels about the social norms, which are being expressed today. Through the video “Stupid Girls” Pink expresses the ideas of hegemony through expressing female norms, presenting counter-hegemony through Pink’s own beliefs, and trying to break stereotypes by poking fun at them.  

Pink’s video “Stupid Girls” gives the impression that women act in a certain way today due to the societal norms or hegemonic ideals set in today’s society. Pink shows these different female roles and acts as if they are the ideal or accepted version of how every female and young girl feels they should act. The main video portrays the hegemonic norms set out for females, which are later, counteracted by Pink’s actual views on the subject of femininity.

The beginning of the video a young girl is pictured with the depiction of a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other shoulder. I feel that they are depicted to show the difference between the values and norms that are being socially forced on the young girls as depicted by the devil compared to her own beliefs and views that she wants to follow as depicted by the angel. The little girl is then presented to either take part of the hegemonic views that societies set or join the counter hegemonic culture. In Lull’s essay he states his opinions on hegemony and states that, “ The mass media uniquely “introduce elements into individual consciousness that would not other wise appear there, but will not be rejected by consciousness because they are so commonly shared in cultural community” (Lull). This quote explains the idea that Pink’s video is trying to examine the fact that “Stupid Girls” are constantly being pushed into the medias culture and become a model for females to emulate.

When examining the lyrics that she is singing throughout the song she speaks about the social implications that girls today are suggesting that it is important to be skinny, taken care of, and have a dream of dancing in music videos. The music lyrics deal mainly with being accepted by men because they are seen as a dominating body in society.

Examples from the video which show the strive to perfection are when Pink promotes bulimia to achieve the perfect body by cheering on other females when they would vomit by shouting, “Good one” (Pink). Certain scenes that can be viewed as counter-hegemony are when Pink acting as president shows a confident, powerful, and intellectual woman compared to the “stupid girls” she portrays as getting in accidents and walking in to glass doors (Pink). Some can compare Pink’s view of becoming president and playing sports as masculine qualities. Pink states in her lyrics that, “I’m so glad that I’ll never fit in, that will never be me, outcasts and girls with ambition that’s what I wanna see” (Pink). This part of the song shows how girls and women are considered to be different if they go against the norm that, “outkasts and women with ambition” will succeed meaning they will have what it takes to break the stereotype described in the article by Jennifer Pozner. Pozner describes the “Stepford Wife” as the ideal because they are, “ impossibly thin, impeccably dressed and intellectually vapid women exist for no other reason than to cater to their husbands every desire, delivering fresh-baked cookies and midday nookie” (Pozner). In the beginning of Pink’s video the young girl is shown the image of the stepford wife who does not misbehave or get out of line who has etiquette, the perfect hair flip and she is quick to copy her actions.

The music video has Pink acting scenarios in the video, which create a norm, and is shown by the idea that all female celebrities are dumb, hair flipping, and small dog carrying “stupid girls.”  These points are then countered by the montage of Pink as president and a forceful football player. Counter parts are show in an unfavorable light with eye rolling and quickly skipping over them. The point of women taking control is always shown up by the little girl watching etiquette class, flipping her hair and striving the be the ideal 50’s housewife.

The video clearly shows the strive for acceptance by changing ones body to fit the ideal which are created by men. When in competition over a man she flaunts her body compared to the other female, she inflates her boobs and is constantly shown marked up for plastic surgery throughout the video. Many music videos today often show an unobtainable body image often created by the media and male culture. Today’s hegemonic views have created the idea to be perfect and many women strive for this and don’t even realize that they are caught up in these social ideals.

Works Cited

Lull, James. "Hegemony." Dines, Gail and Jean M. Humez. Gender, Race, and Class in Media. London: Sage Publications, 2003. 61-66.
Pozner, Jennifer L. "The Unreal World." Learning Gender (2004): 96-99.
So What. Dir. Dave Meyers. Perf. Pink. 2008.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Link Hunt Assignment

Girls Gone Anti-Feminist
February 22, 2010
Susan J. Douglas

Five Reasons I Love Cosmo
September 7, 2009

Visuality and Feminism(?) in Lady Gaga’s “Telephone” Video

April 16, 2010
Amy Littlefield
Gender Across Borders

April 3, 2010

September 23, 2009
Kelly Roache

Link to Blogging in College: the main Gender & Pop Culture blog