Voices From The Classroom: Student Writers (1)
“Voices from The Classroom” is a meeting point for student writers. The first guest of this section is Yücel Nalbantoğlu, an undergraduate student at Sabancı University in Istanbul, Turkey. Yücel’s contribution to the “Voices from The Classroom” initially appeared on his own blog, which he has been keeping as part of a project he is undertaking for his Freshman English 101 course taught by Jo Harris. Thank you very much, Yücel.
Barbie as a Symbol of Oppression
Barbie is a young woman with a “perfect” body. She is independent; she can make a living on her own. She can be a businesswoman, a Nascar racer or a pro bowler. She is, also, an ideal American. She joins the army, Marine Corps or USAF. She celebrates the 4th of July, drinks Coca Cola. She can be an American Indian, a pilgrim or a civil war nurse. Each of these traits makes Barbie more of a symbol of oppression.
Barbie is the image of the physically perfect woman that is created by the media. She is even thinner than the models, has longer legs, bigger breasts and hips. She is blonde and always with her make-up on. If with all this sex-appeal, she were a star of adult entertainment, she would be less harmful. Because she, also, has little feet, small hands, a nice smile, the pink theme, fluffy pets and because she is a doll, little girls can easily relate with her. Therefore, the first group of traits, which could be connected to a porn star, finds lands to be imposed on the little girls. Companies do this because they want those girls to grow up to be consumers when they are teenagers and adults. They will have learned what is beautiful, sexy or cool and they will spend on things like clothes, make-up, cosmetics, gyms, magic diet formulas, and plastic surgery operations. They will buy and get these things so that they can become the sex object that the media tells them to become.
Barbie portrays the strong, free woman of the modern day. She can be a secretary or a businesswoman. However, fashion is at least as important as success, if not more (Look at the description of Career Girl #954 outfit).
Barbie doll looked both fashionable and ready to meet the challenge of a hectic day in the business world! This two-piece black and white tweed suit featured a fitted jacket with wide collar and four-button closure, and a slim skirt. Accenting the ensemble was a sleeveless red cotton shell, matching hat with velvet ribbon band and red satin rose accent, long black tricot gloves, and black open-toe pumps.
The women that have grown up with stuff like this would probably become businesswomen that get promotions because of their looks. Another group of jobs that a Barbie can have is those like astronauts or Nascar racers. These are so far-fetched caricatures that they lose their meaning in terms of freedom. Lastly about occupations, you cannot see Barbie as an engineer, a scientist or a mathematician. The closest she can get to being a doctor is either being a vet, or a nurse next to Dr. Ken #793. The reason is just as Teen Talk Barbie says: “Math class is tough!” or “Will we ever have enough clothes?”. As these phrases by Barbie herself show, girls are not supposed to understand science or maths; they are just supposed to look good in nice clothes.
My last point about Barbie is beyond gender. To males or females, she can be the example of how an American should be. Although this could be nice for American kids, Barbie is a popular toy in many countries throughout the world, e.g. Turkey. A Turkish or Spanish girl should not be raised with American ideas, especially when those ideas are of the ‘American Dream‘. A Brazilian girl will look at Barbie and think why she was not born in the U.S., why she is not blonde, why her family does not celebrate the 4th of July. She will decide she is unlucky to be born Brazilian, creating an identity problem that will live with her afterwards.
Barbie with her appearance, her different occupations, and her American way of living creates a false standard for girls all around the globe. This standard (together with the media’s influence) carve the base for their oppressed adulthood. As Mattel says ,
More than a doll. ™
From fashion selection to vintage collection, she’s everything!
From urban teen to fantasy queen, she’s every girl!
From surf and sand to fairyland, she’s everywhere!
With more than $3 billion at retail, Barbie is the #1 girl’s brand worldwide.
For every girl. From every world.