Check out Yael Engineta’s thoughts on Barbie with the issue of feminism, social media, and consumerism. Yael is currently a 5th semester student of English Department.
Barbie dolls had long been known by people around the world. It often uses to picture beauty and style of women or just simply seen as mere toys made special for girls. As feminism grew stronger during these few decades, Barbie hence has been accused of promoting unrealistic body image for girls. Barbie has always gotten flak for her too thin, too made-up and overly sexualized look. This issue, which definitely against feminism and empowerment of women, makes the sales down.
But now Barbie’s makers have decided to fight back and turn the conversation about her absurd proportions around. They then launched a new campaign called #YouCanBeAnything to push back at some of the haters. The campaign was launch in all of their social media, including youtube, twitter, Instagram. Barbie wants to be the iconic doll for female empowerment and hence trying to look more feministic. However, there are still several traits found on its feministic-sounded advertisement, which fails to serve its purpose as the female empowering medium, but rather it still serves patriarchy way of thinking and going against feminism.
Feminism is an ideology and movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms. It supports and strives for equality for women and men. The basic feminist ideas most feminists agree on are: expanding human choice, eliminating gender stratification, ending sexual violence, and promoting sexual freedom.
A new campaign called #YouCanBeAnything “Imagine the Possibilities” by Barbie Mattel aims to show how the iconic doll can help young girls realize that they can achieve anything they want in life. It’s Mattel’s answer to the entire backlash they’ve faced in recent years from critics who feel Barbie is the embodiment of the anti-feminist.
In the two-minute commercial, five girls pretend to be professionals in various fields: a college professor, a soccer coach, a veterinarian, a businesswoman, and a museum tour guide. At the end, the commercial pictures a little girl, alone in her room, playing with her Barbie, imagining herself doing anything. It all starts at home with her dolls and her imagination.
Though this advertisement seems empowering, there are still several traits found on its feministic-sounded advertisement that still serves patriarchy way of thinking.
First, the tag line used to promote the campaign, rather than saying that girl are free to do anything, it says that ‘girls are free to imagine they can be anything”. It may seem less important, but this line can convey a meaning. Similar to the major stereotype addresses to women where women are not able to have certain professions because they are less than man, Barbie through this campaign unconsciously still adopting this stereotype. They indirectly saying that though some glass ceilings have been eliminated, girls are still can’t be whatever in this patriarchy led the world, so what they are able to do is just imagining it. This thinking is then emphasized in the last scene by picturing a girl with Barbie imagining herself becoming a professor. Here the language plays the role in making what is social and constructed seems transparent and ‘natural’. Language used then not become a neutral medium but one that reflects its role as the instrument through which patriarchy finds expression.
This stereotype hence getting more supporting evidence from the scenes where five girls pretend to be professionals in various fields: a college professor, a soccer coach, a veterinarian, a businesswoman, and a museum tour guide. In every scene, the societies are looking them down; as if they don’t believe that girls especially young ones could do such things, it seems weird for them. This advertisement again is conveying a message that, even if you are manage to get what you have been imagining of, society will not truly accept you and count you as a part of them, still, there is the possibility of being looked down because you are a girl especially if you are young.
The socially constructed role of women also influences the reaction of the society, women are seen as incapable of taking the job which requires excessive thinking (such as becoming a professor) because their role is believed limited to around their household only, making them seems less educated than man. Women are also pictured as weak and incapable of doing the job, which requires physical strength (such as becoming a coach). One of the basic ideas of feminism is the expanding of human choice. Feminists believe that both men and women should have the freedom to develop their human interests and talents, even if those interests and talents conflict with the status quo. For example, if a woman wants to be a mechanic, she should have the right and opportunity to do so. The mechanism of patriarchy creates cultural ‘mind-set’ in men and women, which perpetuated sexual inequality, and then form constructed typical images of women. Even since 19th century, Barbie #YouCanBeAnythingBarbie #YouCanBeAnythingvery few women had worked for a living. Instead the focus of interest in lies on women’s choice of marriage partner, which will decide their social position and determine their happiness or lack of it.
At the end, the commercial pictures a little girl, alone in her room, playing with her Barbie, imagining herself doing anything. This scene also conveys another stereotype, which is against feminism. The scene pictures the room with only doll toys, and some books which seems as fairytales. The scene constructs an image that being a girl is means having doll toys to play with and fairytales book to read. While in fact, it is also acceptable for a girl to play with mechanic tools, building gears, ball and read trivial books. Girls can also be active and enjoy outdoor activities that aren’t all about fashion and beauty. This image is constructed from the constituted acceptable version of ‘feminine’ and legitimate feminine goals and aspiration decided by patriarchs. The acceptable version of feminine believed is remained calm at home, reading or playing with dolls, rather than involvement which series of physical activities or exploration of the surrounding.
People around the world had long known Barbie, either as a mere doll or a doll sending unrealistic body-image propaganda. Mattel then launched a new campaign called #YouCanBeAnything to push back some of the haters. It’s Mattel answer to the entire backlash they’ve faced in recent years from critics who feel Barbie is the embodiment of the anti-feminist. Though this advertisement seems empowering and supports feminism, there are still several traits found on its feministic-sounded advertisement that still serves patriarchy way of thinking and going against feminism.
Through the tagline of this advertisement campaign Barbie conveys messages that even though several glass ceilings have been eliminated, girls are still can’t be whatever they wanted to in this patriarchy led the world, so what they are able to do is just imagining it. Second, the reaction of societies when five younger trying to be professionals they wanted to be showing how the role of woman and girls have been constructed. Even if you manage to get what you have been imagining of, society will not truly accept you and count you as a part of them, there is still the possibility of being looked down because you are a girl especially if you are young. This notion is definitely going the basic notion of feminism, which is the expanding of human choice. The third, this advertisement campaign accentuates the constituted acceptable version of ‘feminine’ decided by patriarchs
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