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The Classic Barbie Doll Is Propaganda

2402 words - 10 pages

Looking at the surface of the classic Barbie doll, you see a plastic, pretty depiction of a young woman with tanned skin, blonde hair and blue eyes. Typically, looking at a Barbie you wouldn’t see any type of threat or negativity surrounding the harmless 10-inch doll. However, digging deeper beneath her plastic exterior, we can see the true effects this world-wide phenomenon has had on all different types of people and society as a whole. Before we begin to discuss the effects Barbie herself has had on society and our culture, we need to look into what propaganda and art are, and what makes them different from one another. Propaganda, as defined by T. Smith in his book, Propaganda: A Pluralistic Perspective, is “a form of communication involving the sending of a message to a receiver” (Smith, pg 53). However I personally don’t think that this definition accurately captures what propaganda is to its full extent. To me, propaganda has a very negative connotation with the idea that it is meant to manipulate, or evoke some sort of emotion or change within its audience. Art on the other hand, is something that is meant to make an audience think. Its purpose is to express the thoughts, feelings, and so on of the artist who created it; art is meant to be analyzed, not accepted. Art lacks the responsive connection propaganda strives to create. This isn’t to say that Barbie is not art, because the doll is indeed a work of art that someone put the time into to designed and create. Just because it’s an extremely main-stream toy and is made of cheap plastic doesn’t mean it’s void of any artistic background. Although one could consider a Barbie a work of art, the typically silent propaganda the doll exudes overshadows the “art” aspect of the doll. This being said, we can now proceed to look at how the rhetorical techniques of Barbie and the Barbie brand have had an effect on our modern day culture.

Strolling through a local toy store, the Barbie section is noticeably the most prominent, attention grabbing section of the entire store. With bright pink packaging and bubbly cartoon depictions of the smiling doll with the aid of big, swoopy, cursive lettering, the Barbie boxes match the stereotypical idea of femininity. It is almost inevitable that any little girl in the store will be drawn to the doll. These characteristics of Barbie’s packaging already set a preset for the doll’s propaganda. The bright color choices and feminine font creates the assumption that the dolls are solely meant for girls and that women are expected to accept pink as the color of their gender. Already, with just the packaging, children are affected because they learn that pink is meant for girls. Because Barbie is such a huge brand and she is everywhere all over the world, a universal assumption has been made that Barbie dolls are meant for girls. This then leads into the next issue Barbie creates for little girls.

Since it is assumed that Barbie is meant for little girls, who...

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