After writing the last post about young girls of color and which dolls they prefer, I was bothered by the fact that I couldn’t remember what the Indian Barbie doll I had when I was little looked like (maybe when I get home once the semester is done, I’ll look through all the closets in the house for it…). So I did some research on Mattel’s history of releasing South Asia-related Barbie dolls, and found these two:
India Barbie – released in 1982, as a Special Edition, part of the ‘Dolls of the World – Asia’ line
India Barbie 2nd Edition, released in 1996, as part of the Collector Edition for the same ‘Dolls of the World’ line:
Is it just me, or is Continue reading
Posted in advertising, barbie, beauty, capitalism, consumerism, diwali barbie, dolls, dolls of the world, exotic, india, india barbie, marketing, mattel, nirali magazine, race, sari, south asian, taj mahal, white standard of beauty, women of color
Recently, Kiri Davis’ short film, “A Girl Like Me,” has been garnering a lot of attention. The documentary explores the issue of beauty and how it is raced within the African-American community, and how that affects young black girls and their perception of beauty. Here is the film:
Davis recreates an experiment from the 1940’s in which the majority of black children, given a choice between a white doll and a black doll, preferred the white doll–and found that the same results hold true today. This shows that the standard of beauty, overwhelmingly, is still an extraordinarily white one. Blonde hair, blue eyes, long legs–all features that we are all supposed to acknowledge as the ultimate representation of female perfection, simply by the knowledge we accumulate as members of a society. I know from my experience with kids that this standard of beauty can reach the youngest members of our society; I remember an incident from a few years ago, when my little cousin was visiting and insisted on playing with the ‘regular’ Barbie instead of the special-edition Mattel Indian Barbie (who was still pretty pale) because it was more ‘beautiful and blonde.’ And who else can represent the female ideal better to young girls than Barbie can?
So nonwhite women are marked from the get-go as being something ‘other’ than the norm of beauty, as shown by the fact that Mattel has to release a ‘special edition’ Barbie doll to represent them. And even then we know it’s just an effort to get our money (and one that I apparently suckered my parents into giving in to).
So why not embrace our difference in an effort to see ourselves as beautiful? Why not exoticize ourselves? Well, Continue reading
Posted in a girl like me, angelina jolie, barbie, beauty, capitalism, consumer culture, culture industry, dolls, exotic, halle berry, kiri davis, marketing, mattel, penelope cruz, race, tween, white standard of beauty, women of color
There was a post over at the main blog about Keisha Castle-Hughes’ now being a mother! I talked briefly about the issue in a previous post in which I wondered what ramifications this would have on ‘girl power’ and young girls who look up to either Castle-Hughes or her character in Whale Rider.
The post on the main blog brings up how teen pregnancy is usually brought up in the media, though–as a ‘problem’ in poor Black & Latino communities. So far I haven’t addressed race on this blog, and I think this is a grey issue that relates to some of the other themes of cultural studies. Obviously, we don’t want babies to be born into the world unwanted. So why not celebrate pregnancy, childbirth, and motherhood? However, there’s also the fact that a lot of these babies are born into poverty, and that possibly if the parents had received the same opportunities that people in wealthier communities receive–namely, access to the same standard of education and being put on the track to college–they wouldn’t have had the babies. It’s that question again–can you really be empowered when your options are limited by society? In the case of the ‘problem’ of teen pregnancy, it definitely seems good that people try to create their own narratives within the system by celebrating pregnancy and making it something worthwhile, even if it’s just for lack of a better option.
The case of Keisha Castle-Hughes, though, is a strange one. Continue reading
Posted in cultural studies, keisha castle-hughes, maori, motherhood, people magazine, preteen stars, race, sexuality, tabloid, tabloids, teen pregnancy, teen stars, tween, whale rider
There was an article in the NY Times recently about the lack of female executives behind the scenes in studios, and it prompted an interesting discussion over at the main blog about how the movies that are greenlighted are the ones that make the most money. As a result, a lot of movies end up being ‘dumbed down’ or ‘cleaned up’ to a certain degree such that they’re rated PG-13, so that tweens (a large market, presumably the ones with the most buying power in the modern U.S. economy, as I talked about in an earlier post) are able to see them on the weekends. This makes a lot of sense; I’m sure lots of people have heard of the phrase ‘kiss of death’ used to refer to an X rating for a movie.
It must be true that the tween demographic makes up a significant portion of moviegoers if studios cater to them so much, but I have to wonder if Continue reading
Posted in advertising, capitalism, consumer culture, consumerism, cultural studies, culture industry, female executives, marketing, movies, new york times, studios, tween
There was a post over at the main blog about a controversial scene in the upcoming movie Hounddog, starring Dakota Fanning. Fanning is thirteen years old, and in the movie, plays a twelve-year-old Elvis fan in the 1950’s Deep South who does a seductive dance to get tickets to an Elvis concert, but is raped by the boy providing the tickets as her friend Buddy watches. The director is adamant that no nudity or violence is shown, only implied. The question is, does that make it okay then? Continue reading
Robyn pointed me toward the following Disney Channel video, filled with Disney Channel teen stars:
The song is a remix of a song from Cinderella in which Cinderella tells her animal friends to never stop dreaming–which is a recurring theme not only in Cinderella, but in many other Disney movies, especially ones geared toward young girls. This makes me wonder about the wider cultural effects of such messages. Isn’t it basically telling young girls Continue reading
Posted in aly & AJ, anneliese van der pol, brenda song, cinderella, cole sprouse, disney, disney channel, dylan sprouse, orlando brown, phil of the future, raven-symone, ricky ullman, teen stars, that's so raven, the suite life of zack & cody, tween
I found this 2005 article from BusinessWeek that not only said a lot of interesting things about companies marketing toward tweens, but also reflected a lot of interesting dilemmas in our society that are related to some of the theory we’ve read in class. To start off with, the article talks about how though tweens have a lot of purchasing power, it is only because they’re permitted to have it by their parents that this is so. This makes me wonder, does this reflect Continue reading
Posted in advertising, Althusser, American Girl, Baby Boomers, capitalism, consumer culture, consumerism, culture industry, dolls, gender differences, marketing, Panopticon, tween