SOURCE: Vision Media

Vision Media

February 18, 2009 03:03 ET

Society and Culture: At 50, Barbie Is No Stranger to Plastic Surgery -- Vision.org

Vision.org Explores Barbie's 50-Year History Asking: What Does the Forever-Young, Always-in-Style Barbie Say About Our World, Our Values, and Us?

PASADENA, CA--(Marketwire - February 18, 2009) - As if haute couture was not abstract enough, this year's New York Fashion Week began with a fashion tribute to Barbie, the now 50-year old icon of the Mattel Toy Company. As Reuters News Service reported, "Barbie turns 50 this year but the classic doll was still turning heads at New York's semi-annual Fashion week as models styled as Mattel Inc's fashion icon took to the catwalk in designer outfits." Vision.org writer Laura Cloer, in her latest article for the society and culture section of the online magazine, reports on how this little doll has turned the heads of more than fashion-oriented adults for 50 years.

"Looking ready for an upscale pool party in her black-and-white striped swimsuit and high heels," Cloer writes concerning Barbie's introduction in 1959, "this attractive little doll was about to revolutionize the toy industry. What her creators couldn't know is that she would also become the reflection of a changing society."

As the NYFW illustrates, Barbie's influence is ubiquitous. "By the manufacturer's count," Cloer writes, "90 percent of American girls between the ages of 3 and 10 own at least one Barbie doll." Mattel has "sold the dolls and their outfits to children and adults in more than 140 countries, making Barbie one of the most successful children's product lines in history." But what are the consequences of this influence?

Some argue this influence is inconsequential. In this sense, Barbie becomes only a marketing ploy, an attraction, a kind of searchlight drawing one to a fashion show. However, the images created in these events exemplify the long range impact of the Barbie trend. "Through magazines, television and movies, women were subjected to pressure to meet that physical standard. That pressure has only increased in our media-saturated world," Cloer continues. "Women and girls are inundated by images and words, telling them what this season's ideal look is and how to achieve it."

The Vision.org article "Barbie Turns 50" takes the reader beyond the adult interpretation of the Barbie phenomenon to question its impact on children. "While the doll has been judged a bad influence by some and held up by others as a positive role model, she appears to be less a trendsetter than a mirror in which we can view society's changing course."

That mirror reflects social and ethical values that otherwise often remain hidden to both parents and children. "With the obsessive emphasis on appearance all around us, adults are rightly concerned that children should be brought up to have a proper sense of self. However, while the average little girl knows that Barbie is a toy, albeit one with a very unlikely figure, what will that same little girl make of the highly sexualized media barrage to which she will be subjected?"

About Vision:

Vision.org is an online magazine with quarterly print issues that feature in-depth coverage of current social issues, religion and the Bible, history, family relationship topics and insights into philosophical, moral and ethical issues in society today. For a free subscription to the Vision quarterly magazine, visit their web site at http://www.vision.org.

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    Edwin Stepp
    Vision Media Productions
    476 S. Marengo Avenue
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    www.vision.org

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