Thursday, March 05, 2009

Tattoo Controversy

Tattoo’s seem to be the subject of the week, or at least the past few days. They were the focus of a lunch-time conversation in the break-room at work, and now they are a source of controversy regarding the latest Barbie doll.

I can’t say that I understand the problem. If you don’t approve of the doll, don’t buy it for your kid. But then people are strange, they like to think of themselves as dictators of the societies in which they live.

I read this article recently, and of course now I can’t find it again or even remember where I read it… but it was about Barbie turning fifty this year, and the author was reminiscing about her own childhood and the roll played by Barbie in it.

In the article the author mentioned the many controversies that Barbie has faced over the years, specifically the age-old debate over the role Barbie plays in young girls development of self-image. The point that she made, that I particularly liked, was that for young children it’s not really about what the doll looks like. The image of the doll was never so important as the complex scenarios that the dolls owner could come up with. Barbie was a blank template, a vehicle to be fueled by the imagination. There were no limits to who she could be.

What the author remembered, and what I remember from own Barbie doll days, were building worlds in which her Barbie could live. Through the doll she was able to live out her dreams of the moment. On occasion I think people give too much credit to the face value of a situation. It’s never really been about what the doll looks like, that’s not important to the dolls target audience.
The author also stressed that it was not Barbie who shaped her expectations for the future, and assisted her in developing a sense of her own image. These ideas and truths she sought through the important women in her life, her mother, grandmother, aunts, ect. It is through the living, breathing people that we learn those things that become ingrained in us as we grow older. They helped her become the woman that she grew to be through both their conscious and unconscious actions. This I think is an important truth that we often lose sight of.

While media, toys and gadgets may serve as partial influences on our youth, it is ultimately the people in their lives who play the largest role in shaping who they will become.

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