In A Barbie World Essay

2038 words - 9 pages

In A Barbie World!

A culture that is saturated by consumerism can be referred to as a consumer culture. Barbie can be used as a tool for consumer culture because she is perceived to be the perfect woman, an unattainable achievement. Barbie has the perfect man, Ken; she has her dream house, and car, and even a dream closet. There are life size Barbies bouncing around in T.V. and print media ads that personify this image. Barbie produces a systematic reproduction of consistency; she doesn't evolve but rather promotes change around her. Barbie’s face or body structure hasn’t significantly changed since her creation. The different nationalities that Barbie is produced in are careful not to ...view middle of the document...

It has specified sections for toddlers, girls, and boys. I wasn't surprised by this because, as my memory recalls, the toy aisle has always been divided this way. The girls section was by far the largest and Barbie did in fact have her own isle. I was not allowed to take a picture of it with my camera. (So I tried to take a picture of it secretly with my phone, however, it's blurry.) Barbie's isle was complete with her dream house, her pink convertible, and a pink Volkswagen bug. There was an array of nationalities. There was an Asian Barbie and a Black Barbie. There were also Barbies that were from specific countries such as Venezuelan Barbie, Canadian Barbie and Moroccan Barbie which were dressed accordingly. Ken and Krystal (I think that's supposed to be Barbie's little sister) where also in the aisle. Barbie had pets and a pet store, hangers you could purchase to hang her clothes, and individually sold accessories. Barbie was also available in an array of professions or vacation themes. The entire aisle was Barbie, there were even Barbie bikes and a rechargeable battery operated four-wheel Barbie Jeep that girls could get in and drive around. The aisle speaks volumes. There were no other toys that had an aisle dedicated to them like Barbie's. This tells consumers that Barbie is the best and obvious choice for your child. As consumers, we're attracted to the most elaborate displays; and this pink-filled aisle would certainly lure you away from the lone Cabbage Patch Kid with the torn box.
I wanted to take a closer look at the nationalities of Barbie. According to about.com and the Barbie.everythinggirl.com websites, Barbie has represented 45 different nationalities. There was no information on how Mattel chooses to represent these different nationalities. By taking a closer look at the dolls, one can note that the facial features don’t change very much. The biggest presentation of each nationality is generally in clothing.

Above are pictures of the Barbie Groom Pup Styling Head doll; one African-American the other Caucasian. The only differences between the dolls are complexion, eye color, and hair color. Mattel has to obviously be careful as to not perpetuate racial stereotypes and thus only obvious or “traditional” factors are included. Another example of this is the Cinco de Mayo Barbie. Her traditional attire is the main attraction and effectively makes her represent Cinco de Mayo celebrations.


Another point made earlier is the variety of items that Barbie has. For example there are several different vehicles that are “Barbie” items (pictures below). The appeal of these different vehicles to young consumers is imbedded in the need to play “pretend”. Also, children often mimic their parents or older siblings, not to mention society’s images of popular vehicles. The idea here is to provide many options for a consumer, this way there is at least one item that every consumer can be attracted to. Also it is important to note...

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