If she were alive, Barbie would be a woman standing 7 feet tall with a waistline of 18 inches and a bustling of 38-40. In fact, she would need to walk on all fours just to support her peculiar proportions. Yet media advertising, television and Hollywood would reinforce her message, influencing what would become the American ideal of beauty.
And what’s up with Ken being an eunuch? Leave it to artists to find a creative use for Barbie and comment on this cultural icon.
Chris Jordan is famous for using photography to explore American consumerism. In one of his latest pieces, Chris uses Barbie dolls to demonstrate how this doll has affected American women’s body images. Empowered Parents further explains:
Barbie holds the distinction of being the first doll to become an adult figure in the child’s life…She would ultimately become a representative of our own culture. Mothers, as well as their daughters took in Barbie’s messages about how shape and size matters at the very brink of our society’s revolution for women who were becoming liberated, entering the professions in greater numbers, becoming divorced, participating in the sexual revolution, blending families, and abandoning mealtimes and family rituals in favor of work force and the work out.
Chris’ “Barbie” (2008) is a 60″ x 80″ piece depicting 32,000 Barbies, equal to the number of elective breast augmentation surgeries performed monthly in the US in 2006. Did I say 32,000 boob jobs a month? This is reason enough not to allow my daughter to play with Barbie. Whether her breasts turn out large or small, I want her to be happy with her body and even happier with her soul!
Margaux Lange is making jewelry from Barbie doll parts. Margaux explains,
Whether you love her or hate her, there are few who feel neutral about the plastic princess. I am fascinated with who she is as a cultural icon, her distinguished celebrity status, and the enormous impact she has had on our society. Specifically, I’m intrigued with her influence in defining gender roles of women in contemporary American culture.
At least Margaux has found a way to reuse this mass produced toy into something unique, preventing a few Barbie dolls from entering our landfills.
For another artist’s use of plastic dolls, please visit our post “Finally, a Use for Plastic Baby Dolls“.
Images courtesy of Margaux Lange and Chris Jordan.