Is Barbie REALLY distorting the body image for young girls?

It seems that we are constantly hearing shudders and disapproving tuts from parents and guardians alike, regarding the Barbie dolls their young girls play with.  I am sure that I am not the only one who has heard statements such as “Barbie makes little girls think that they have to look a certain way”, and “Barbie doesn’t represent a normal woman” being thrown around in the last number of years.  But, are these disapproving remarks actually truthful? Or, is this just an irrational concern?

When I was younger, I played with barbies. I liked to make them prance around the place, often in a somewhat ‘unladylike fashion’, contrary to their flawless, pretty appearance.  In fact, I spent very little time as a young girl concerning myself with what Barbie wore.  I can’t remember ever maintaining the dainty little shoes which came with her – they always became lost in some way or other.  Similarly, I spent little time brushing her hair.  I’d roughly scrape through her plastic dyed hair with a human sized brush, and scrape it back with one of my scrunchies.  My Barbies spent most of their time frolicking around the place like they were drunk out of their minds… no shoes, carelessly dressed, often going around with missing items of clothing, etc.  I gave my Barbies certain personalities.  I remember when I was small, I was not one of these young girls to play into ‘the princess Barbie’; I always found the sporty and sociable Barbie to be far more appealing.  I know that other girls are different, and they spend all of their time sitting in their pristine rooms, brushing Barbie’s hair, dressing her, and of course, maintaining every last one of her colourful dainty shoes.

Some little girls are interested in beauty, the colour pink and fashion – and others are not.  Whichever the case, I fail to see how playing with a Barbie doll can distort their body image.

Barbie was not the only toy we played with when we were young. There were plenty – Baby Born, toy cars, teddies, board games, remote control cars, or even ‘make-it-yourself’ sets (which were referred to as ‘makey-do sets’ in my house).  I cannot speak for the general nation of children, but in our house there was rarely gender distinguishing when it came to toys.  My siblings and I shared our toys.  I didn’t adapt an unrealistic body image from Barbie, just like I didn’t aspire to be a cowboy from playing with a Woody doll.

For the most part, I feel I can speak from experience, and say that toys do not put any pressure on children to become a certain person.  Similar concerns have been expressed regarding video games such as ‘Grand Theft Auto’.  My simple response to this concern is that maniacs, murderers and rapists have been around for centuries.  I fail to see how a violent video game is going to encourage children to act violently.  Also, the game is only suitable for over 18 year olds — so maybe your child shouldn’t be playing it anyway if you do not want these concerns to become reality.

I can safely say that for me, a toy was always just a toy when I was young.  I was never under the impression that girls who looked like Barbie existed.  Perhaps ‘blonde bombshells’ did, but nonetheless they were human beings with non-animated faces and hair that wasn’t plastic. I also knew that Woody from Toy Story didn’t exist, and that race cars required a driver to move, not a hand.

Toys are there for children to create, to imagine, to have fun and to even express themselves.  So, my simple answer to the title of this blog is ‘no’, I don’t feel that Barbie distorts the body image of young girls.  Barbie is just a glorified piece of plastic, with round plastic boobs and plastic white-blonde hair.  Barbie was made out of plastic – just like Baby Born was, and just like remote control cars were.  I was never under the illusion that I would someday become a Barbie replica – and I never felt any of my other friends would either.  I was surrounded by real-life women, who were not made out of plastic and did not have permanent makeup tattooed onto their faces.  I always aspired to be like these women – I never aspired to look like Barbie, or act like her (considering her personality was somewhat bland.)

If anything, we need to concern ourselves with real-life women.  I do recall aspiring to be like Rachel Stevens from S Club 7, or Emma Bunton from The Spice Girls.  Rachel Stevens was awarded the title of ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’ during my childhood; and Emma Bunton often wore very little clothes and behaved very promiscuously in music videos (although she was most probably playing the character of ‘Baby Spice’)

Are these really positive role models for young girls?  Both examples were sexualised in the media.  Barbie was also sexualised; but as I have stated, the difference is that Barbie is plastic. Perhaps we need to be concerning ourselves more with the unsuitable role models for young girls?

But for now, I don’t feel Barbie is putting on any pressure. And, if you think she is, just don’t buy her for your children. It seems pretty simple to me!

Thanks for reading 🙂

Ballyfermot College of Further Education – Review

Course Code: ITC

Duration: 1 year

REVIEW:

2 stars out of 5 stars

TUTORS: Most of the tutors I had in B.C.F.E were terrible, with the exception of a few. One tutor was rude, unhelpful and slightly crazy. She had a terrible attitude on her, and did as little work as possible. She explained steps once, and expected everyone to immediately get the hang of it. Another tutor was kind, but not very helpful or useful. We spent the majority of classes talking. She spent most of the classes gossiping about other students, or talking about her own life. We got no instruction for the rest of the year. For essay writing, they all informed us all after writing our first drafts that we needed a certain kind of referencing for all assignments. Perhaps they could have saved time, ink and work if she had told us what was required before our first drafts were submitted? Another tutor I had was alright, but I had no interest in the subject matter. He wrote endless notes on the board, handed us sheets, rarely explained things, etc. But, he was a nice character. No one had much interest in the subject matter, he knew that. The other particular tutor I had was the worst. He taught nothing to us. However, he, unlike the rest of my tutors, thought he was teaching us everything. Also, he expected our efforts to be perfect without having any instruction. He spoke to us endlessly about things, often going off topic and having debates with other class members. He spent the first few weeks of the year showing us practical elements halfheartedly, after that, he spoke in every class about random topics. We were expected to produce our practical work on our own. He offered quite literally no assistance, then became irritable and impatient if our submissions were poor. He was unapproachable and very distracted. I learned little to nothing from him. I had one very helpful tutor. In my opinion, he was born to teach. He was kind, helpful, cheery and wise in every class I attended. He also had miraculous patience and was a great form of guidance. He is the reason I have one or two good things to say about B.C.F.E.

STRUCTURE: I found the structure in B.C.F.E to be extremely poor. There is no organisation and a serious communication problem among staff. Events are poorly advertised, and tutors give out to students for not knowing certain pieces of information, when no-one is informed of them. Trying to contact the college or particular tutors is an absolute joke. They never respond to their emails, then the tutors go around in headless chicken mode because they’re not notified of certain situations, when if only they would respond to their emails (or even look at them) there would be no problem in the first place. Email addresses of tutors are not handed out for ‘confidentiality reasons’, although it is the only way people can contact their tutors. Ringing the college is also extremely useless. They don’t hand out any information you might need. Trying to contact your tutor about handing in work is the most excruciating task. It is impossible to contact them. They can never be found by secretaries it seems, and emailing the college to notify them is useless, as I said. Basically, you cannot contact tutors, unless they give you their personal email address. Tutors also often arrange to meet you to collect work, yet never show up, and never apologise either or even acknowledge the fact.

ATTENDANCE: Attendance from my class was appalling. There were a class of 21 people, but an average day would consist of about 7 pupils, and even that number decreased drastically as the year went on. I don’t know if I can blame the college for this – but I assume that if the college was in a better condition, attendance would be reasonable. Also, if there was any acknowledgement of the absence, perhaps people would make more of an effort to attend. However, it seems perfectly acceptable to not attend college for as long as you like. The tutors make comments like ‘You will be kicked out of the course if you miss 20 days’, however, you clearly are not kicked out of the course. And the tutors don’t really care about it.

EQUIPMENT: In my course, we were required to use Avid Media Composer for editing, and the JVC cameras to record. The Avid software had the potential to be good, but it was never updated or attended to by the staff. Whenever you logged onto the software, several WARNING messages came up, and there were detected viruses on all of the editing computers. However, for the entire year, they remained. They were never dealt with; although it was possible for student’s work to be affected. The computers in the college were also extremely slow. It took ages for an editing computer to start up, and on several occasions it froze up on me and I had to go to a different room. As for the camera equipment, the main thing I can say is that it is so, so, so outdated. They all take tapes and you are required to digitize the footage over to Avid after recording. However, the video quality so often suffered. Digitizing the footage was such an unnecessary task, and took hours at a time if there was a lot of footage to sift through. If the equipment was somewhat updated, perhaps SD cards could be used, and video clips could be converted over to the college computers in quicker time without so much fuss? Also, burning a file onto a DVD is outdated. You have to play it out onto a TV screen first, whereas it would be much more efficient to burn it on using a software like DVD Flick. This method is so unnecessary. All of the equipment is very faulty and rusty.

In conclusion, I don’t feel that B.C.F.E is all it’s cracked up to be. I had an alright year, mainly because of the people in my class. I also enjoyed the content, but most of it was self taught. The tutors are mainly lazy and uninterested, the software is damaged and the organisation is appalling. Considering that so many big names attended the college, it is being ran poorly now.

Do we put on a face to outsiders?

A friend or family member are coming over to your house. What do you do? You can think about it honestly. Do you clean the house to perfection? Do you quickly hide away last night’s wine bottles, out of the sheer mortification of it? Do you take the tipping ashtrays out of viewpoint entirely? Do you make sure that present they got you is on display?

Let’s face it. We are all guilty of ‘putting on a face’ to outsiders who enter our home. We want to impress, we want them to have a nice visit, but perhaps more accurately, we don’t want them to see the reality we live in. The messy, laid-back but standard reality – that they most likely live in also, when behind closed doors.

When your visitors arrive, you plaster a smile on, you serve them refreshments and drinks, you avoid cursing, you make sure your children are well-presented. But, what do you do once your visitors leave again? Do you continue prancing around your home in such a jolly and sweet fashion? Or do you, like most of us, return to your natural mannerisms? Do you veg out in front of the TV, drink alcohol, behave in an untidy fashion, and play loud music?

My question is this – Why are we all so ashamed of showing our true behavior to visitors? Surely, we know them well. They are close people to us. Why else would they be coming to our homes in the first place? But if we really DO enjoy the company of our visitors, why do we create such an artificial portrayal to them? Are we not comfortable around them?

Is it merely part of our culture that we feel the need to put on this ‘face’ to visitors in our home? Is this ‘face’ artificial, or just mannerly?