The BARBIE Project

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April 7, 2014 by Welcome to the Jungle

Barbie 1Working in groups, students were challenged to research the Barbie Doll toy, and find out three key details about the Barbie Doll they thought were telling, meaningful and interesting.






Group 1 said:


A. Mattel inc. makes Barbie dolls. They have four factories in different countries where barbie 3many women stuff, cut, dress, and assemble Barbie dolls. The air in the factory is dusty which leads to many breathing problems. The working conditions of these factories involve “long hours, hard work, low pay, no vacations, no sick days, and no rights.” The lead that is in much of the material they are working with also leads to lead poisoning.


B. Young girls play with Barbie, these children are ages three to eleven years of age. In society, Barbies represent American women over the last four decades and the expectations that are had for American women. Those who do not get to play with Barbie are the workers who make them in the dusty factories.


barbie 4C. We think that if Barbie dolls were the only thing young girls were exposed to then their expectations of womanhood would be shaped according to Barbie ideals. However, young girls are exposed to other images and thoughts of womanhood in society that are more realistic than what Barbie demonstrates, therefore, young girls are able to grasp a better understanding and Barbie does not affect them as deeply. All of the girls in our group have played with Barbie before, and this did not affect our view of womanhood because we have the knowledge that she is only a toy, and the imaginary world is much different than the Barbie world. We think it is a good thing that they show Barbie having other professions because it shows young girls that there are many possibilities of what they can do in their future, and it is not all about shopping and having boyfriends.




Group 2 wrote:

credit cardA. “Plastic money”, the credit card, came into use in 1958 with the invention of the American Express Card, the same year that plastic was used to mass produce Barbie.

B. Some of the criticisms of Barbie are that she has unrealistic measurements, she is too sexual for a children’s doll, she’s made in a sweatshop, and the doll is more about the fashion aspect then about her “Careers”.sweatshops

C. Mattel makes Barbie. The working conditions in the factories are very poor a lot of the time. The workers are supposed to wear masks to protect themselves, but most can’t even afford it.


Group 3 wrote:

A) barbie5At the time that Barbie was made, plastic became a major industry in the USA because it was easy to work with and cheap to manufacture. At this point, people did not realize the environmental impact of using plastic.

B) The typical consumers of Barbie dolls are young girls. These girls are between 3 and 11 years old. These girls typically are the middle to upper classes of society, because the lower classes of society often can not afford the Barbie dolls. As well, boys playing with Barbies is not culturally accepted.

C) Men are supposed to be tough and He man, whereas women are supposed to be submissive and do what men want. Barbie dollas really play into these seterotypes. The body of the Barbie doll is thin and small especially compared to a Ken doll or G.I. Joe doll that are made to be big and muscular.



Group 4 wrote:girls barbie

A) Plastic was the material used for Barbie, and it was the material for the credit cards introduced to society at that time.

B) Barbie gave an ideology to a market of much younger girls so she would be acceptable to them.barbie 6

C) Barbie would stand 5’6, and 110 pounds if she were alive. She was modelled on a sex doll from Germany. And she only wears underwear sometimes.




Group 5 wrote:


A)      Barbie is made of plastic. This is a sign of the times that she was first made credit card2because the credit card or “Plastic money” had just come into widespread use. Plastic is also cheap and easy to manufacture.

B)      There are many criticisms of Barbie. One of them is that she sets an unrealistic standard of beauty for young impressionable girls. Another criticism is that she is too sexual for small children. People have also claimed that she encourages girls to act like bimbos.

C)      sweatshops 3Barbie is made and produced by Mattel. The dolls are made in sweatshops in South East Asia, mainly in Thailand. Conditions in these factories are terrible, with small children and women doing most of the work. Air quality is poor as well, around 75% dust, with lead and other harmful chemicals present in the air. Many of the workers develop serious health problems. They earn $4 or less a day as well.



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