Barbie has long been a very popular girl. Every second, two Barbie dolls are sold somewhere in the world. She makes her way into the toy chests of girls around the world. In many ways she has become the ultimate role model for young girls. She is all of white western culture’s ideals shoved into one small plastic body. Personal views on beauty and ugliness are guided by societal values and standards. Beauty is learned. Children learn through the media, their peers and their families. They also learn from play and Barbie has become a very prevalent play thing. Her petite figure shows girls that thinness is necessary for beauty and at the same time perpetuates fat phobia. Her large perky breasts and round hips teach girls that their sexuality is based on these features. In her classic form she is pale, blond and blue eyed. Her legs are long and thin, her feet small. Her eyes are wide, her nose is small and cute and her lips are the perfect balance of full but not thick. When her proportions are enlarged to scale and placed next to a normal human she is grotesque and inhuman. But the doll looks good. And it is the doll girls strive to be.
Barbie is the most successful girl in the world. She has excelled in over 80 professions ranging from teen model to Olympic athlete to presidential candidate. She has thousands of cars, houses and outfits. She has a boyfriend with perfectly chiseled abs to match her perfectly shaped everything. She is always smiling, always happy because she has reached the paradise of a perfect life. Her success and her looks are hard not to link. A girl playing with this ultimate woman observes a correlation between Barbie’s looks, success and ultimate happiness. She creates a direct relationship between attractiveness and happiness.
But is she a dad influence? She is in many ways full of girl power. By being anything and everything we want her to be she teaches girls that they can be successful. That even though it has yet to happen, girls can want to be president too. Unfortunately all of her power lies in a body that no girl can achieve and in wealth that most girls don’t have access to. Her excessive accessories create a correlation between wealth and beauty. She is a natural at everything. With a change of clothes she can transform from a news reporter to a doctor. She never has to struggle or work she just smiles passively and everything goes her way. She demonstrates the possibility of success but leaves girls high and dry for an explanation of how.
I looked up what Barbie’s size would be if she were scaled to the size of a human. The numbers are pretty crazy and completely unrealistic by any measure. As thadea112 says, Barbie represents all of the white western culture’s idea of beauty. Thadea112 also says that beauty is learned through figures such as Barbie. Although I agree with this idea, I wonder exactly how much one doll can shape a child’s idea of beauty. I owned Barbies as a child, and I don’t ever remember thinking, “Wow, Barbie is so pretty. I want to be just like her.” This might be because this kind of influence comes subconsciously, but maybe it is also because even kids know this doll is unrealistic. I knew I wasn’t blonde or blue-eyed, and Barbie certainly didn’t make me want to change to be just that. I had also been out in the world, seeing people of all shapes, sizes, and skin colors, and had never seen a person who looked like this. Of course, I did not put this much thought into how a Barbie may, or may not, have shaped my life; however, I don’t remember idolizing anything about her besides her wardrobe.
Barbie’s wardrobe is probably the best part about anything Barbie related. You can have a single doll, and a million ways to dress her. The only thing I wanted to be like Barbie for was to have that many clothes and be able to dress up as anything I wanted. Today in class we talked about how skinny-ness and beauty are often connected to wealth. A doll like Barbie is a great example of this. She is perfect by social standards, and has an infinite amount of clothing, cars, and accessories. This makes kids feel the pressure to have all of these luxuries as well. I don’t know everything there is to know about Barbies, but I’m making a guess that a majority of her career-influenced outfits are for good jobs, ones that are respected by society. As thadea112 says, Barbie shows kids that they can be anything they want to be. By dressing Barbie up as a doctor, a child might grow interest in being a doctor themselves. However, I wonder if there are any Barbies that represent jobs at fast food restaurants, as a retail worker, as a mechanic, etc,? Would these jobs even be acceptable to Barbie? They aren’t idea by social standards, so I wouldn’t be surprised if they did not exist.
Another thing I find interesting about Barbie is the different races that are being made into dolls. In class we looked at the Puerto Rican Barbie, and read an article comparing different opinions about this Barbie. The Puerto Rican Barbie looked exactly like the white Barbie, but with darker-tinted skin and different hair. This Barbie sparked a wide controversy, some thought she looked nothing like a Puerto Rican, and some thought it was a great representation. It bothers me though, how this Barbie, and the Barbies of other races come with very stereotypical clothing. Clothing which probably isn’t anything like what the culture actually wears, and they only have a certain style of outfit. They aren’t as versatile. This, in my opinion, strengthens the buriers between races. It promotes the idea that a person from that background is supposed to dress in that way, and any different outfit would no longer represent their culture. Although I think Barbie should have more realistic representations of all kinds of people, I can understand why she doesn’t. In order to have as much diversity as we have in the world, there would have to be a Barbie modeled after every single person. Since this is impossible, Mattel has generalized cultural standards and chosen to represent them in these ways. No matter what kind of Barbie is made, there will always be something wrong with it. People argue that Barbie is too skinny; however, if she were made fat, this would be wrong too. “Normal” doesn’t really exist, so there is no perfect Barbie that will please everyone. Since it’s too late to erase Barbie, and any other doll for that matter, from the world, I can accept them as they are, realizing that they are a toy, not real people. I always found Hot Wheels to be more fun anyways.
It Lives in You
While reading Toni Morrison’s book, The Bluest Eye, I could not help but to see a reoccurring theme. It may be a bit of a stretch, but I have noticed that this theme keeps showing up throughout the book. The theme I am referring to deals with materialism.
In the proem, the same short story is written three different times, each time with less and less conventions. The first reading is structured perfectly, with correct grammar and punctuation. The second reading contains no punctuation and is written as one long sentence with no capitalizations. The final reading contains no punctuation, no formatting, no capitalization, and is written as one word, containing no spaces.
Let’s say that punctuation/grammar/formatting is like materialistic items, and that the written words are like people… (This is where the stretch is, but bare with me.)
If we take away all the punctuation/grammar/formatting away from the text, we are left with the same words. It literally says the same thing, just with fewer conventions. All that is left is the meaning of the words.
If we took away all the materialistic items from people, they are still the same person. They are still the same person, just with fewer materialistic items. All that is left is the person and who they really are; their personality. That is all they have left to show.
In the book, we are introduced to Maureen, who is a character that is much different than Pecola or Claudia, but yet the same. Maureen is a light-skinned, wealthy girl of color, who is seen as superior, mostly because of her appearance and confidence. She dresses much nicer than all the other black girls in her school, for her parents’ wealth has allowed her to own such materialistic items. If we took those items away from her, all that she would have left to judge is her personality, where her true beauty lies.
People often see people for their appearance; how they appear to be. They pass judgements on their personalities based off of their visual analysis of the person. If the person is wearing nice clothes or has nice make-up, the person is often labeled as “pretty” or “beautiful.” But if you take away those materialistic things, they are seen as physically less “desirable” by those same people who thought they were beautiful.
Beauty is not a physical appearance, but a personality. It is not something achieved by materialistic items, but by character. It is not what people show on the outside that makes them beautiful, but who they are on the inside, as cliché as that may sound. Even still, there are people who do not have beautiful personalities, but that is a personal opinion. What determines someone for having a “beautiful personality” is someone else with a similar personality. What I may find as an “ugly” personality, someone else in this world may find it beautiful. What I may see as a beautiful personality, someone else may see as an ugly personality. The determining factor lies in each person, and they are entitled to that opinion.
I find it interesting that a-marty made this observation in “The Bluest Eye” with the proem. I think this idea also connects to much of the other material we have covered in class and on the blog posts. For example, many people have been posting about the rich kids of tumblr and how they flaunt all of their material objects. If you take those things away from them, what would they be flaunting? Is the personality under these objects worth showing off to the world? Although these rich kids of tumblr may seem shallow, I think it is important to not make such strong assumptions. They should be granted the freedom to show off their wealth as they please.
a-marty also mentions that what one person sees as ugly may seem beautiful to another. This reminded me of the episode of Ugly Betty we watched in class today. Betty was set up on a blind date by her sister with a man who had previously described this man as a “sniffer.” He had an annoying habit of sniffing a bit too loud, and a bit too often. Betty knew that she had no common interests with this man, so she tried to respectfully turn him down. It was important in this situation the she remained respectful, and realized that even though she didn’t find him interesting, someone might. A similar situation occurs with Justin at the Homecoming. Some of the cheerleaders had plotted against Justin in attempt to embarrass in front of his entire school. However, one of the cheerleaders is against this idea and tells Justin’s family what is being planned. Although some of the cheerleaders were making fun of him, one of them knew how wrong it was, and actually cared for Justin. She saw the beauty within him that none of the other girls did. This not only brings in the idea that some may see beauty in people that others do not, it also shows that nobody should be judged based on other people’s opinions. I’m assuming that these girls were only making fun of Justin because they didn’t get a chance to actually know him, and they judged him solely on someone else’s opinion. The cheerleader that stood up for Justin acted in this episode as a role model of what can be done when a situation similar is happening.
I’ve also noticed these judgements seem to happen too often in social groups. I personally have heard people make rude assumptions on who a person is, based off of a single encounter or a bad experience with that person. Then, upon meeting this person, I realize that they are genuinely kind. Through situations like this I have learned not to take to heart what I hear said about other people, and not to let it alter how I see them. I think this is an important thing to realize when hearing these judgements. A person isn’t always what you see, or what you hear about them.
I don’t know if any or many of you have seen this video or even heard of it. But I saw this when it was on TV for the first time. It was so emotional and, yes, I did cry.
As Susan Boyle comes out onto the stage the crowd begins to chuckle. Her attire and bodily shape and appearance are unattractive and the crowd expects the following performance to be a complete disaster and waste of their money. One judge asks where she is from and she stumbles to explain her town, most likely due to the rush of anxiety and nervousness overwhelming Boyle, and people scoff at her. Then a judge asks how old she is. She replies “I’m forty-seven,” and the crowd goes wild. Before she can reply to Simon of her age, an audience member mockingly whistles at Boyle, adding it solely for the humiliation factor. Every time I watch this and hear that whistle my stomach drops. My eyes fill up with tears and I automatically hate that person.
The camera spans out into the crowd and shows several eye rolls along with open unbelieving and critical mouths. Even the judges snicker at the sight of such a hideous woman, almost scoffing at her unreal appearance. She hasn’t even begun singing at this point. And when she explains her dream of becoming a professional singer, the crowd almost screams in laughter of disbelief. But the moment she opens her mouth, everything changes. She can sing absolutely beautifully.
It is like her appearance was a mask and the singing only brought out her beauty, but why do people continue to criticize and mock a person for their appearances only until they can prove themselves worthy of a second glance with an amazing talent, like that of Susan Boyle? Why is it that this gutsy performance by Susan Boyle had to happen in order to transform her from a “nobody” into a “somebody?” Or from a completely repulsive person to a person everyone wants to know? Is it because there has to be the WOW factor with every performing artist? This has happened so many times in entertainment. The “rags-to-riches” story seems to get old, but once a person really looks at it, why do they have to become such a big deal? I understand if it is because they hit a big break, but why should people like Susan Boyle, a truly kind person, be such a shock to find beautiful or talented?
Thankfully after her performance, the judges were able to, in a way, apologize for their thoughts from before. But they shouldn’t have had to apologize for anything in the first place, nor should the audience have felt guilt for their change in heart. They should not have expected any less from Boyle than they did from any other performer.
Thank you thank you thank you for discussing this. As you all know, there is the recent craze over the unlikely opera duo on Britain’s Got Talent. An attractive girl, and an overweight, long-haired, very awkward boy get on stage. They explain their story, the judges exchange dubious looks and the crowd sniggers. The Susan Boyle Event all over again.
Oh guys, get this, turns out THEY SING LIKE GODS. Especially the “fat kid.” Turns out he’s a real person with real talents and real emotions. OMG. So touching.
(Confession: This made me so goddamn happy to watch. Opera in general does that to me, I’ve always loved it, but the “inspiration” of the clip also got to me. Can’t lie. It’s nice to see people defy stereotypes.)
And that’s the point.
People LOVE to see others defy stereotypes. We LOVE underdog-wins stories, we LOVE rags-to-riches stories, we love evil-old-selfish-codger-becomes-philanthropic stories (Scrooge-esque), we LOVE watching ugly people open their mouths and have beautiful voices.
Why do we love seeing people overcome these stereotypes, and yet mock them when they fail (despite immense effort)? It’s only okay to be fat, ugly, poor, a minority, etc. if you have some amazing talent, apparently. If you’re just a “normal” person, but you happen to be any of the aforementioned adjectives, you are the basis for mockery. Vewers points this out very eloquently, and I think its an extremely important idea.
Why is it a sensational story when someone who is unattractive in some way has an amazing talent? A talent that would be just pretty good in an attractive person.
I’m relatively sure it’s because we expect ugly people to be ugly in every respect, and when I think about it, that kinda horrifies me. I mean, how often do we look at an extremely overweight guy in a nice suit at the grocery store and think “Wow, I bet that guy is really successful”? If it were a young, lithe, handsome guy in a nice suit, we probably would.
It says something about our society that we expect ugliness to completely fill up and define people we find unattractive, to the point that we sensationalize anyone whose ugliness is really only on the surface. Even if you’re the hottest person on earth, don’t you have a friend who is ugly (by society’s standards)? Don’t you know that they aren’t a horrible, lazy, untalented and boring person? So why do you/we help keep this idea alive by paying attention to these stories?
Because we love them. And if that makes us horrible people, we still love them.
This is exactly the video that I thought of after seeing the original blog post on Susan Boyle. I find the duo of Charlotte and Jonathan to be very inspiring, and to be something everyone can learn from. As lespoireaux points out, we love seeing the underdog rise to the top after putting up with degrading remarks about them on a daily basis. I think the reason we find stories like this so inspiring is because it gives our imperfections something to be hopeful for —that even though we don’t all look like models, there is something deeper, and more meaningful to offer. I find it much easier to look up to people such as Susan Boyle, or Jonathan, than big movie stars and models. After all, what do we learn from them? How to try to reach a perfection that does not exist? The stories of Susan and Jonathan allow you to see that no, not everyone is perfect, but everyone has something special to offer the world.
At the beginning of the video of Charlotte and Jonathan, the judge Simon is shown whispering to one of the other judges, “Just when you think things couldn’t get any worse.” This statement is incredibly rude, and Simon judges Jonathan right away by his looks. Even though this probably angered many people, including myself, I realized that this same type of judgement happens every single day. It just looks worse here because it is someone who is well known, and who is presenting this rude comment to millions of viewers. As lespoireaux says, “I’m relatively sure it’s because we expect ugly people to be ugly in every respect.” People are constantly judged at school, at the grocery store, just about anywhere. How many of these people that are being criticized actually have some sort of amazing talent like Jonathan? I would guess that all of them have a crazy awesome talent. And if their talents were presented on national television, people would probably feel bad for their judgmental thoughts and comments.
I think a big part of the inspiration of the story is Jonathan’s friend Charlotte, who is considered pretty by most social standards. Early on in the video, at 1:15, Charlotte says, “Before you make a judgement on someone I think you need to get to know them.” I think this sends a big message for those who are “pretty” and treat “ugly” people badly. She is a great example of someone who has actually given the ugly a chance, and found the greatness inside of that person.
After their performance, the judges are impressed by Jonathan’s voice. It is ironic how they immediately thought Jonathan was going to be a fail, but after hearing the duo, the criticism was put on Charlotte. Although she did sing very well, Simon recommended that Jonathan “dump her” because she might end up holding Jonathan back. This outcome was completely opposite of the stereotypes typically given.
While it is great that this story became so famous, and that Jonathan received the recognition that he deserved, stories like these should not be so shocking. I’m sure there are plenty of people out there whose talents go unnoticed just because of their physical appearance.
Plato said that the highest level of beauty, is the prototype idea of beauty. The second level is the idea of the idea of beauty. Like you can think about beauty. The third level is things that contain beauty. Like mountains or a pretty person. Plato said that art is a weak copy of that, because every time you copy something, it’s one step further from the original prototype. This is the reason Plato did not like art.
Sometimes I like to think how much he’d hate Tumblr. We post pictures of artworks (that’s like… level 5), and we see them on our screens. Which is another imitation. That’s level 6. Hahahaha
I initially found this interesting because we are starting to cover Plato in my philosophy class. then realized it also relates to colloquium. If the idea of beauty is the ultimate beauty, and physical objects are the 3rd removed from that, it kind of adds an “ugliness” to everything? hmm….
lol this is my fave anti-white message so far
Immediately when I saw this post on the calloutqueen blog, I related it to two of the works we have looked at in our colloquium class. Today we discussed Shakespeare’s, The Tempest, and looked at the significance in having a character like Caliban, an evil slave to Prospero who is also a native to the island on which they reside after being shipwrecked twelve years ago. When Prospero and his daughter Miranda first arrived on the island, they were kind to Caliban and took him in as a part of the family. In return, Caliban showed them the ways of the island and how to live there. Prospero thought himself to be superior to Caliban, therefore enslaving him and taking all power over him. Although Prospero thinks he has control over Caliban, Prospero actually is very dependent on both him and his other slave Ariel. Without the help of these prisoners, Prospero’s current lifestyle would not be the same, he might not have even survived as long as he has simply for lacking food and water. In this situation, Prospero is the perfect example of the “cunningly smart but weak people” in this post on calloutqueen’s blog.
The second text I found related to this post was, “Displaying Sara Baartman, the ‘Hottentot Venus.’” Sara Baartman was taken from her native land in Africa and sold to a showman in England. From there she was put on display in a freak show where she was de-humanized, and made into an object of public display. The freak shows were a way for the showman to make money, and therefore he was dependent on Sara Baartman to make money to earn a living. Both the original “owner” of Sara Baartman, and the showman felt a sort of superiority over her just because they were more educated and were from the western culture which could be considered more advanced. This is once again a situation where a person with superiority actually ends up looking like the weak one because they are so dependent on the people they put themselves above.
I found this post especially interesting because it reverses the roles of superiority. This post is coming from someone who is seen as the underdog, but they have found the strengths which come from all of this discrimination. As pointed out in the situations of both Caliban and Sara Baartman, the underdog, ugly, weak, or whatever other degrading categories people can be put in, are actually the ones in control. Without having a pedestal to stand on, there would be no basis for superiority over anything. There would be no power that any one person could have over another. There wouldn’t be a king without commoners, no pretty without ugly, and no white-power without minorities.
This photograph stood out to me as a clash between beauty and ugly, and how bold of a statement it is to carry around a bag like this. When you break it down, this is just a simple paper bag with some markings on it and a gold chain. It’s owner, however, had a bigger purpose in mind.
The crumpled, folded up paper grocery bag shows a bit of carelessness. It’s a simple, everyday item that is usually just thrown away and forgotten. The Chanel logo is drawn on the bag with permanent marker in a seemingly careless manner. The logo is crooked, un-proportional and the coloring of it is scribbled in without attention to detail. The patterning in the background of the logo is a simple, checkerboard design which is once again full of imperfections. The lines are drawn over and over again without overlapping each other, they aren’t straight, and the boxes are unevenly sized. The top of the bag is rolled over and being crunched by the hand of it’s carrier, despite the flashy gold-chain strap that is supplied.
By using the logo of a highly priced brand of fashion products, the creator of this bag is adding a sense of value to it. This logo, in its normal use, automatically suggests wealth, fashion, and beauty. The bag photographed is testing those values applied to the logo, and twisting them into something ugly to show that a brand name doesn’t necessarily mean beauty. The logo is a sort of disguise, trying to hide the ugly crumpled paper bag and make it more respectable.
The gold chain adds a touch of beauty to the bag, however based on the condition of the bag, and the fact that it is being held by the top fold rather than the strap itself, suggests that the strap might not even be functional— simply there for looks. I assume it is taped in, or hanging on by some other unstable method, serving practically no purpose other than trying to pretty-up the ugliness under it.
The people, or rather the legs of people, in the background speak out in the meaning of the bag. The person holding it and the person directly next to them are both wearing pants that are a little rebellious. The converse shoes are worn out and sloppy looking. The person didn’t even put them on their feet all the way, they just slipped them on. This shows a sense of carelessness and having no strive for perfection. The legs on the upper right corner of the picture, however, show a little more care for their appearance. They are wearing smooth, clean-cut, khaki pants, and new-looking, shiny, black loafers. It is apparent this person puts more emphasis on their appearance than the people in the foreground. The person with the bag is probably purposely choosing this accessory to be used around people who put more value on their appearance, brand names, and beauty in order to show them that those things don’t always matter.
A question I have from looking at the photo is, what is inside of the bag? Maybe there is trash in the bag, clothes, high-priced items, or anything else that can be put in a bag. I would like to be able to compare the contents of this bag to that which you might find in a real Chanel bag. Then contents might be surprising by being the same, or completely unexpected.