This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Barbie: An American Icon Essay

2865 words - 11 pages

News correspondent Pauline Frederick once commented When a man gets up to speak people listen then look. When a woman gets up people look; then if they like what they see they listen" (Women's Wit and Wisdom 10). Ironically, the harsh reality of this statement is given life by the ongoing controversy of America's most recognizable and sometimes notorious toy. Barbie. Barbie has become this nation's most beleaguered soldier of idolatry who has been to the front lines and back more times than the average "JOE." (Varney 161). This doll, a piece of plastic, a toy incurs both critique and praise spanning all ends of the ideological spectrum. Barbie's curveaous and basically unrealistic body piques the ire of both liberals and conservatives, each contending that Barbie stands for the distinct view of the other. One hundred and eighty degrees south, others praise Barbie's (curves and all) ability to unlock youthful imagination and potential. M. G. Lord explains Barbie best: To study Barbie, one sometimes has to hold seemingly contradictory ideas in one's head at the same time . . . The doll functions like a Rorschach test: people project wildly dissimilar and often opposing meanings on it. . And her meaning, like her face has not been static over time" (10). In spite of the extreme polarity, a sole unconscious consensus manifests itself about Barbie. Barbie is 'the icon" of womanhood and the twentieth century (Ducille 50). She is the American dream (Varney 161). Barbie is us" (Lord 17). The question is always the same: What message does Barbie send? Barbie is a toy. She is the image of what we see.

At her inception in 1959, Barbie created a wave of fear among the general male population as well as the conservative population because she inspired little girls to break away from the traditional bounds of the home. Previously, dolls such as Betsy Wetsy, Chatty Cathy, and Tiny Tears invoked a maternal instinct among girls as the girls played with and experimented with the tools of future domesticity: "to nestle, nurse and nurture" the family (Ducille 62). With these three "N's", little girls would be prepared to remain at home and to care for and to raise the family. Barbie dolls, critics complained "make girls' less able to achieve the emotional preparation for being a wife and mother that they received from baby dolls" (Best). Critics were terrorized by what Ducille describes as, "Barbie's curvaceous, big busted, almost fully female body that summons not the maternal but the sexual, not the nurturant mother but the sensuous woman" (62). Barbie was a "titillating toy" (Ducille 62). "Barbie from the outset worked--at both dream and humdrum jobs" (Lord 48) instead of staying home to care for Betsy and Cathy.

Barbie crossed the line of traditional womanhood in the 1950's by going to work and became an icon of womanhood. Yet as her new status as an icon took hold, many women frowned upon the message they saw Barbie projecting to little girls. Ann...

Find Another Essay On Barbie: An American Icon

McDonalds: An American Icon Essay

1496 words - 6 pages The largest of the fast food companies have forever cemented themselves into the American culture and they are fully aware of that fact. Written on a McDonald’s paper tray liner is their statement to this knowledge; “I think about great memories from my past. Road Trips, friends, study breaks and lots of laughs. Anytime nostalgia sets in, I know it’s not too long before I’ll be going to McDonald’s for a Big Mac. Someday in the future, when I’m

AN All American Icon, a Hero, and a Legend

1138 words - 5 pages How do you see Marilyn Monroe? A fake? A whore? An inspiration, or even a hero? How much do you really know about her? First lets start with some background information. Marilyn Monroe’s birth name is Norma Jean Baker, She is most known for being a major sex symbol, an actress, singer, and model. Why do I think she’s heroic? Above everything, her childhood was a nightmare, and she was still a very strong woman, but ill get to that later

Harley Davidson has long been an American Icon

2063 words - 8 pages -Davidson stayed the undisputed leader in the American market with over 60% of the market share and $20 million in sales.Harley-Davidson - CharmFrom the beginning, since the company first came into existence up until 1950s, Harley-Davidson had created an image of "raw power". There was a lot of aspects which set Harley-Davidson apart and created the mystique of the bikes. Let's just recognize a couple of them such as: the heavy use of chrome, the

Sojourner Truth is an icon of the most American of ideals for her activism in various areas

621 words - 2 pages integrity of her gender identity. As a woman, she declared that she was the equal of any man in her ability to work, bear pain and suffering, and determine her own future. As an African-American, Truth challenged the racist ideas that her people were morally and spiritually inferior to whites.Sojourner Truth has undoubtedly earned her place among the great and courageous figures, the leaders in the struggle for equality, in United States history. Her struggle to fight for gender and racial equality provide a powerful symbol for modern freedom movements

Law and Regulation, The Apitome of American Capitalism? The Emergance of Wall Street and New York as an International Financial Icon 1900-2002. Steele's novel "The Great Game"

1764 words - 7 pages Today, Governmental law and regulation seems to be the epitome of American capitalism. But this was not always the case; in the beginning, Wall Street was a ruthless environment with almost no laws or regulatory measures. Fraud, bribes, insider trading, market corners and an overall lack of precise accounting created a tremendously unbalanced market in which small shareholders were the primary losers. Men such as Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jay Gould

The Blessing Of Barbie

866 words - 4 pages I’m a Barbie girl in a Barbie world! Life in plastic, it’s fantastic! Ask almost anyone and they will be able to continue the Barbie theme song. American businesswoman named Ruth Handler, created the Barbie brand in 1959. Barbie is typically a tall, skinny, blonde who is in a long-term relationship with her boyfriend Ken, and has had at least 100 jobs. Barbie has become an American icon; she is present in almost every girl’s childhood for some

Banning Barbie

2156 words - 9 pages doll, and there is no harm in playing with them. As for self image problems, not everybody cares. Just because “some” parents don’t like the fact that their little girls imagine being like her, doesn't mean Barbie dolls should be banned. Adults see barbie dolls as the perfect role model as well. To them it’s like an American women must be able to carry a purse and an umbrella under her arm just like Barbie. (Barbie and fashion, 77) According to

Barbie: Her Intentions and Her Impact

1319 words - 6 pages Barbie, an American icon that was a product of the Mattel Company, revolutionized the lives of young girls and women for many decades. The creation of Barbie, meant for many young girls the opportunity to have choices during a time when women were limited. Although, Barbie has long been criticized for being associated with domesticity and her appearance among many other things, she is nonetheless an iconic figure in American History. As a female

The Barbie doll represents many things in American society, but at the end of the day she is just a doll

700 words - 3 pages The Barbie doll represents many things in American society, but at the end of the day she is just a doll. While Barbie is a strong positive figure, she was created to be a doll, not a social icon. Barbie is basically a three-dimensional portrait, supposedly an accurate representation of an average, modern, American woman. Of course the perceptions of "average", "modern", and "American" have all changed over the years since Barbie's conceived in

Barbie is a Good Role Model

1463 words - 6 pages since the sixties and has physically changed over the years, but the idea behind this doll has stayed the same. Also Barbie’s physical description of the current time is that she has an “improbable figure- buxom breasts, wafer- thin waist and permanently arched feet waiting to slip into a pair of high- heels [...] the most potent icon of American popular culture in the late twentieth century,” and even though this may sound like a type of doll that

Controvery over Barbie

2929 words - 12 pages American culture has been impacted by an icon that has survived through four decades of political, social and cultural changes. Despite her age, she still wears short skirts, has a tiny waist, enormous breasts, and a flawless airbrushed smile. She is the classic white, blond standard-bearer of fake beauty that was born to Ruth and Elliot Handler and her name is Barbie Millicent Roberts. Barbie is one of the most influential icons in society and

Similar Essays

Barbie A Complex American Icon

3684 words - 15 pages As a young girl, I was not very interested in playing with baby dolls. I preferred playing with my many stuffed animals or the only doll I did like—Barbie. With my animals, usually I was rescuing them from some horrible disaster such as a flood or a forest fire. I was their heroic savior and benevolent protector. But with Barbie this was decidedly not the case. Sometimes my Barbie did normal Barbie things, such as get dressed up for an exciting

Barbie: Independent Woman Or Damaging American Icon?

2690 words - 11 pages Barbie: Independent Woman or Damaging American Icon? She's the classic American beauty, the woman we all dreamed of being at one point in our lives. She has long, tanned legs, cascades of blonde curls and has such perky breasts that she doesn't even need a bra. Although this character does not need air to breathe and is made of plastic, she has been one of America's most potent icons for more than 40 years and has affected girls in ways

Madonna: An American Icon Essay

2589 words - 10 pages see such a figure. Madonna’s name is recognized by everyone, as is evidenced in a survey taken of fifty people of varying ages (shown below). These facts alone are enough to engrave her name in pop culture history, but the making of an icon does not stop there. Madonna is the quintessential example of an American icon because of her revolutionary changes to both the worlds of music and fashion; her entire life, from her early childhood to

Henry Ford: An American Icon Essay

1747 words - 7 pages Henry Ford: An American Icon It takes a very brave person to take a leader role and make the world a better place. Ford treated each and every one of his workers with respect. In return, the workers gave Ford all they had and one-hundred percent on anything and everything they did. Henry Ford did not just step up and make himself look good, he helped the country and even the entire world by chasing his dreams. Even from a young age, he set out