I'm featured on the Near and Elsewhere blog this month
"You mention on your website that the doll as motif is significant in "shaping girls' experiences of being female" - can you elaborate? How do you feel it effects women's perceptions of being female?
Dolls are one of a number of factors, which teach girls how they should behave and to what they should aspire. They train girls to associate certain characteristics with being female. From the second half of the 18th century, they were used as a form of education to teach girls how to dress, and to foster maternal aspirations. Paintings of dolls from this period depict them as an aid in developing girls into docile women, probably indicative of underlying fears that women have innate unruly passions that could threaten the social order.
More recently, a number of writers and theorists have argued that dolls continue to teach girls’ gender norms and social expectations such as maternity, domesticity and beauty. Barbie reinforces a white-skinned, thin, fashionable beauty ideal, which when internalised has been shown by some studies to contribute to the development of body dissatisfaction in girls. Barbie and other dolls reinforce to girls that their primary social value is the attainment of beauty, encouraging insecure consumerism. Furthermore, Barbie represents a physical ideal, which extends the idea of beauty to characteristics such as skin colour, marginalising girls of non-Caucasian ethnicity. Even though they are not the only contributing factor, dolls, I think, act as a symbol of broader social and cultural expectations to which children are exposed from a very young age. They are a tool used to inculcate girls with certain ‘feminine’ values, and to train them to aspire to a narrow beauty ideal."
Check out the rest of the interview at: