Hello, my name is Lindsey Schwartzkopf. I am presenting a discussion of a detail for the novel The Sweet Hereafter . I chose to talk about Barbie because it is something I can relate to and compare my attitude toward Barbie with Nichole’s from the novel.
Barbie’s journey into being an American icon almost didn’t happen. When her creator first had the idea, her partners vetoed it. However, after finding the Lilli doll, Ruth Handler was able to convince her husband and Matson to make the small adult-styled doll. Barbie is named after Ruth and Elliott’s daughter Barbara.
Barbie is known to represent everything from the ideal belief of femininity, to a disgrace to all women, and a bimbo. Despite criticism Barbie has survived more than five decades of change. That is a big deal, especially in the toy industry. Toys normally have a relatively small life-span, yet "in a world shot through with uncertainty she [Barbie] is an island of stability...She is one public figure who can be trusted never to lose the bloom of youth, never to self-destruct in a barrage of ugly headlines, or sordid disclosures" (Kristin Riddick). Riddick also says, “this suggests that there are larger social, behavior, and value patterns at work”.
Galia Slayen, the student who transformed the doll into a life-size replica model, says that Barbie’s shape helps accelerate “a drive for thinness,” claiming that the doll was one of many factors in her own personal struggle with body image and an eating disorder. Dr. Robyn Silverman says, “We can’t blame Barbie for all of our body image woes.” Mattel has worked hard over the years to prove that Barbie is not a sex symbol. Mattel said, “It’s important to remember that Barbie is a doll who stands 11.5 inches tall and weighs 7.25 ounces – she was never modeled on the proportions of a real person”.
In my opinion, the sexism and controversy that people invent over a simple toy is ridiculous. Barbie was often "at the forefront of newscasters' snide comments [because she] was ‘mainstreaming’ ” [changes in American society] ( Kristin Riddick) . Prejudice came from parents, other adults, and the media - children didn’t see anything wrong with integrating new styles and new friends to Barbie’s life. The changes in Barbie's style may also be attributed to what Mattel wanted for Barbie to make her a positive role model for young girls. It sure seems people liked what they were seeing and hearing because consumers have kept Barbie in a key position for toy sales.
Even though Barbie was considered to just be a sex symbol by many people, others saw her as a positive role model. I think Mattel responded to a lot of criticism and has worked to change her image to a wholesome one for people of diverse cultures. They created companions for Barbie, like her sister Skipper and her friend Teresa. They created dolls of different races and ethnic backgrounds. They also changed Barbie’s body type. The company said, “Girls see female body images everywhere today and it’s critical that parents and caregivers provide perspective on what they are seeing”.
When I was young I enjoyed playing with Barbie Dolls of all sorts. I never thought anything about what the dolls looked like I just played with them. Barbie dolls are not something I find offensive.
When I was little, my mom ran a daycare center. Most of our toys were played with by all of the daycare kids. But my sister’s black Barbie with the silver and blue ball gown was placed up high, away from where little kids could reach. Sometimes my mom babysat some of her friend’s kids. Once, a friend of hers came to pick up her daughters. When she saw the doll on top of the refrigerator she said, “Oh, well I can see that you aren't prejudiced,’ with a look of disapproval on her face. I wasn't sure what she meant by the word prejudiced back then but her tone said more than her words. It could be that she was prejudiced against black people I’m not sure. It never occurred to my mom that the doll “wasn't appropriate to play with”. I think my mom was a little shocked that her friend would say something like that.
In my opinion Nichole Burnett uses Barbie dolls as a way to connect to a time when she was both young and naive, like her sister. She plays with them to keep the innocence that was taken from her by her abusive father. After the accident she knows she's not “pretty” to her father anymore. She tries to keep her sister from also being molested like she was when she was young. She uses the time playing with her sister and the Barbie dolls, to pretend that she is still a young, untouched, unknowing child (like her sister is, like she used to be.)
The soaring, joyful spirit of being young and seeing beauty and grace in something as simple as a child’s doll is what Barbie means to me.
What does barbie mean to you
What does Barbie mean to you? Lindsey Schwartzkopf English III“It’s All In The Details”
A Brief Barbie history Ruth and Elliott Handler co-founded Mattel Toys with their partner Harold Matson in 1945 The idea of creating a small adult doll was formed by Ruth after watching her daughter play with paper dolls but the idea was rejected by her partners In 1956, while in Lucerne, Germany, she discovered a doll called Lilli, which resembled the type of doll she wanted to make
More of Barbie’s history Barbie was released March 9, 1959 at the American International Toy Fair in New York City The first African-American Barbie doll was created in 1968 The first Hispanic Barbie doll was created in 1988
Barbie controversy Since Barbies creation many people have complained about how she epitomizes an impossible ideal for young girls To many people, Barbie creates a sexist, stereotypical ideal for women to follow
Why is Barbie foundoffensive? What people should really find offensive about Barbie is what people say she symbolizes And the reasons behind those things they say
What Barbie meansto me Barbie means many things to different people Barbie dolls aren’t something I find offensive To me they represent tolerance for diversity
My personal experiencewith Barbie My sister used to have a black Barbie Doll She had long raven hair that came down past her shoulders and wore a stunningly beautiful blue and silver ball gown
Nichole’s view of Barbie For Nichole Burnett, the Barbie dolls were not just a toy Barbie dolls were a way she could still be innocent at heart You would never see anyone marketing “Abused Barbie”
References Anschutz, Doeschka J., and Rutger C. M. E. Engels. "The Effects of Playing with Thin Dolls on Body Image and Food Intake in Young Girls." Sex Roles 63 (2010): 621-30. Print. Dittmar, Helga, Emma Halliwell, and Suzanne Ive. "Does Barbie Make Girls Want to Be Thin? The Effect of Experimental Exposure to Images of Dolls on the Body Image of 5- to 8-year-old Girls." Developmental Psychology 42.2 (2006): 283-92. Print. Honisberg, Peter Jan. "A Barbie Doll Story." The Phi Delta Kappan 77.3 (November 1995): 252-56. Print. Kuther, Tara L., and Erin McDonald. "Early adolescents experiences with, and views of, Barbie." Adolescence 39.153 (Spring 2004): 39-51. Print. Riddick, Kristin. "Barbie in the Nineties." Barbie in the Nineties. University of Virginia, 1 Sept. 2009. Web. Romo, Leticia I. "Sandra Cisneros "Barbie-Q": A Subversive or Hegemonic Popular Text?" Studies in Latin American Popular Culture 24 (2005): 127- 37. Print. Sharma, Rachna. "Barbie: American Icon to World Idol." ICFAI Journal of Brand Management 5.2 (June 2008): 39-51. Print.