Archive for March, 2012


By: Brandice Hudson, Digital Journalist at WRBL News 3

COLUMBUS, Ga. — Barbie- -a longtime icon for girls all over…

This time of year, you can find her atop many Christmas lists.


“We’re holding the Black Barbie Doll Drive, where we collected new and used Barbies to give to the girls at the BTW Girls Inc. and we’re turning them into natural hair Barbies,” said Candace McBride, Organizer for the Black Barbie Drive.

In Columbus, Frolific is hoping to makes the wishes of needy young girls come true this holiday…But this time with a “twist.”

“Natural, is chemical free hair or hair with no perms. And you can wear it curly, you can wear it locked, or you can wear it straight. It’s just without a relaxer,” said McBride.

Hiding behind the hair, is a more important message: Teaching girls to accept who they are.

“Children need to know the importance of loving themselves and the way God made them and they don’t need any alterations to their hair or bodies to make them better…That they’re good enough the way that they are,” said McBride.

One grandmother agrees. That’s why she’s brought in her donation.

“I have a little granddaughter that is just beautiful and we haven’t been able to find one like her…And she says granny, why don’t they make them like me?” said Alice Bowling.

Click here to read the rest of this story.


URL: http://www.thegrio.com/news/african-american-group-gives-barbie-a-natural-hair-makeover.php

*If you guys have the time check the link out because at the bottom of the page there is a video about these women.

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I also decided to include this link: [http://www.curlynikki.com/2011/07/do-it-yourself-natural-hair-dolls.html ] from curlynikki or [ http://playbarbies.wordpress.com/2011/06/02/custom-rotini-or-halo-hair/ ].  I decided to include it because it reminded me of what Becky said in class about her mother and how her mother used to play with her and come up with the stories. It is interesting to me how mothers are manipulating Barbie to send a message to their child about self love and acceptance. It just goes to show that even though the toymakers may have their own ideas about their toys, customers can always reinvent the toy and give it a new meaning. I am pretty certain that Mattel did not anticipate this. Even though Mattel


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I would have commented, but I wanted to include the pictures.

Even though the other photo is clearly a critical commentary on Barbie, she actually did work at McDonald’s…more than once.

My best friend actually owned this.  I don’t think we played with it that much, except for the fries.  They were cool.

Birthday Fun at McDonald’s??

AND Barbie’s teaches little sis Kelly that Happy Meals are a good meal choice.

Not to mention that Barbie has been featured on happy meals probably a dozen times.

This is such brilliant marketing for both McDonald’s and Barbie.  I can remember asking my mom to take me to McDonald’s to get the Barbie Happy Meals.  And if I recall correctly, boys always got Hotwheels Happy Meals.  Gender coding in action.


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GI Joe vs Barbie

With our class discussion focused on Barbie dolls, I found myself trying to relate. I did not play with Barbie dolls as a child, but I did play with GI Joes. I guess we refer to GI Joes as “action figures,” but they basically fill the same niche as Barbie dolls, except for males.

I know one of the criticisms of Barbie dolls, as per our class discussion, is that it creates a so called “ideal” female physique. This is the physique that women should aspire to and men supposedly find most attractive. However, the physique depicted in Barbie dolls is nearly unattainable.  As demonstrated in blog post “Anorexic Barbie,” such a physique looks rather absurd and is not exactly attractive (just my opinion). Yet, many young girls still aspire to this “ideal,”  starving their bodies, and creating a host of other problems in their pursuit.

All can agree that there is strong pressure for females to have a certain physique due to the influence of Barbie and other popular sources. But, females are not the only ones who bear such a burden. Men also face similar pressures from society. Take the GI Joe doll depicted above. From a young age, males play with these dolls. Based on the hero status associated with the GI Joe, young boys try to emulate him, in every way. This includes his physique. Many, many young men begin lifting weights and eating a certain diet with the hopes of attaining a comparable body. However few realize the volume of work and years of dedication required to succeed in this endeavor. Often, when they do not see immediate results, they become discouraged and quit. In doing so, they not only lose out on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle based on moderation, they also lose self-confidence and adopt a defeatist attitude. This attitude can have effects in other aspects of their life as well.

Ultimately, I believe the societal pressures on females represented in Barbie dolls, especially with regard to physique, are comparable to those represented by GI Joe.


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UEA American Studies student Cat Clark went looking for American Food in Norwich, actually her instructor offer to pay her to do it.  So she stopped first at Route 66.  (This site was the subject of an earlier post here.)  Turns out, Route 66 has closed down. (Any theories as to why?) No worries, Cat found an alternative, ‘Captain America’s Hamburger Heaven.’  (By the way, check out the web-site  for the place — check out the icons and the information on the food, including “the ‘Diet Special’ for those watching their waistline.”


Here Cat’s smart, funny, and interesting commentary.

When asked to write about an American restaurant in Norwich, to compare and contrast how or if culture can be seen through food, I at first thought as only a student can, great FREE FOOD!!! The more I have thought about it the more excited and interested in the experience of eating I have become. Let’s face it, everyone has to eat, it is one of the few things we all have in common. However, it is the very commonality of the act of eating, preparing and sharing of food that also offers us the clearest vantage point to observe our contrasting cultural or religious beliefs. Food has gone beyond just a means of sustenance it has moved into layers of meaning and significance. It is through food along with the act of eating that as children we learn about customs and family life. This linking of food and memory continues throughout our lives, with significant occasions, people and often places associated with the very act of consuming a meal. In fact many, if not all of us will have these food memories, that not only recall memories to mind but evoke emotions and thoughts. The memory of a first date or a last date, your grandfather’s 80th birthday, a wedding or a funeral. These  ‘food memories’ not only evoke past memories or experiences but can also signify to our mind and body the mood in which a present meal is to be experienced. A perfect example of this would be a romantic meal for two!

So how does this relate to my burger you ask? Well I have been thinking about the representation of food, more specifically how a countries culture such as America is perceived and subsequently represented in the UK through food. The response I have come up with is this that the burger is somewhat of a cultural parody. As I sat in the restaurant surrounded by kitsch Americana, and ate a burger that, although ordered rare, would only achieve this classification had I got it yesterday, I began to wonder when this parody of American food became, to the UK at least, an acceptable representation of authenticity. Is it too consumer driven so that the idea that travels and lasts is the one with the all singing Disney America? That is I think what this burger represents, to me at least, Disney on a plate it looks real from the outside but has no depth or meaning. I was left with questions like do English people know what rare is? Do fish and chips translate in the same way to Americans? Is it possible to get a decent slice of cheesecake anywhere other than New York? I was also left remembering the last great, I mean truly keep you there for day’s kind of great burger I’d had. Technically I was in Canada for this burger, a tiny little town with 463 residents called Teslin, 2hrs from Whitehorse. If you’ll forgive the fact that the story is Canadian I think it is still relevant. Anyway, here we were lunchtime had arrived and my friend said “I know this great place for lunch.” We pulled up to the one and only hotel/food store/gas station come diner in town. I’m not expecting much at this point but what I got was a true marvel. A buffalo burger with poutine, I am salivating as I write this, and it struck me that this food memory was the real deal truly authentic. I thought to myself why doesn’t that kind of authenticity travel? Why are we left with this unrealistic less than representative version of American food? The answer came to me – it is the whole world’s obsession with two words: ‘fast’ and ‘consumerism’! I for one think it is a shame we miss out on the massively diverse food culture that America has because the mythical representation is what sells!

Cat Clark, American Studies, UEA

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Barbie portrays everything

I just saw this on my newsfeed on Facebook and it just made me think really how universal Barbie has become. I don’t think this is an actual Barbie doll, but this proves really how Barbie is an icon. She is an idea that can be shaped to fit whatever time period she is in. When I think of Barbie there is not one particular image that comes to mind. Barbie is a mesh of images that embody every type of woman there is. And though she may be really skinny, I still believe that there is something classy about her. Yea she’s a doll, but I imagine everything she does she does with positivity and poise and to the best of her abilities, even earning minimum wage at McDonalds. Maybe she’s got weight issues, but I don’t think of Barbie’s weight when I look at her. I think of her ability to change into any type of model. There is a Barbie that appeals to every girl out there, and I think that is where Barbie’s power lies.

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Anorexia Barbie!

I just read this article, published by a college student who struggled with an eating disorder in high school:


In an effort to raise awareness about eating disorders she recreated the proportions of a Barbie doll to human scale and this is what the Barbie ended up looking like:

In the article, it also says that one Barbie comes with a bathroom scale that is permanently set to 110 lbs (which would make Barbie’s BMI so low that she would be considered anorexic) and it came with a diet book and the only advice in the book was summed up in 2 words:  Don’t Eat.  I never saw this Barbie set, but I can only imagine the adverse affects it could have one little girls that read it and want to look like Barbie.

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Today’s discussion of Barbie reminded me of a skit they did on SNL a few years ago depicting a chaotic moment in Barbie’s supposedly idyllic Dreamhouse. In this rare glimpse, Barbie is presented as a flawed woman with an imperfect life, or in other words, humanized. It made me question why Barbie’s life seems so perfect and idyllic in the first place.

Amy Poehler and Britney Spears also play off of Barbie’s stiff plastic frame, calling into question why we aspire towards and idolize something that is purely material: plastic. How and why has a creation of plastic and other synthetic materials come to represent so much in terms of true femininity? Has Barbie pushed women into today’s plastic surgery craze?

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