Tag Archives: Miss Representation

What I Have Been Up To

Well, it’s been officially two months since my last blog post. Well done, Rachel!

I’ve been a bit preoccupied with other stuff lately, specifically my new job at Girls For A Change. Girls For A Change is a non-profit organization run out of Silicon Valley that that empowers girls to create social change. Over the course of the fourteen week program, groups of middle school and high school-age girls meet with GFC coaches (female volunteers) to talk about the issues that effect their community and implement a group-designed social change project to target a specific issue. It’s an absolutely incredible organization, with “Girl Action Teams” in California, Virginia, Arizona, Texas, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC, and internationally in El Salvador, India, Nicaragua, Rwanda, and Uganda.

In addition to being a coach here in Santa Cruz County, I also run the social media aspects of the organization. Another big part of Girls for A Change that I am involved with is our partnership with Jennifer Siebel-Newsom and her incredible film MissRepresentation, for which I help run the Social Action component. Check out the trailer for the film here: 

We encourage people to sign up to become Social Action Representatives for the film – kind of like being an intern – and twice a month Action Reps receive an Action Alert email that gives them a special assignment, such as using the hashtag #NotBuyingIt on Twitter to call attention to sexist, misogynistic, or anti-female advertisements and products.  We provide a handy tool kit (designed by Girls For A Change) that has all the tools reps need to take their inspiration and move it into action. I work with the folks at MissRepresentation to create the Action Alerts, so much of my creative thought goes into that rather than this blog nowadays!

If you haven’t yet seen the film, I highly encourage you to do so.  MissRepresentation “exposes how mainstream media contribute to the under-representation of women in positions of power and influence in America. The film challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls, which make it difficult for women to achieve leadership positions and for the average woman to feel powerful herself.” The alarming facts, raw interviews with scholars and celebrities alike, and Siebel-Newsom’s emotional narrative have made this film completely eye-opening and extremely important.

So, that’s what’s been going on. There’s a lot of terrible stuff going on in the world, and I suppose it’s just too aggravating to actually sit down and write about it. Maybe in another two months!

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Right. Ok. NOW Parents are concerned with the message that Barbie sends?

A new collectors edition Barbie doll has tattoos. Her name is Tokidoki and she has short pink hair and tattoos all over her body.

Tokidoki, a new collectible Barbie doll from Mattel

Parents are not on board with this.

 

Says one mom, “I don’t think it’s appropriate for little girls to be having Barbies with tattoos all over.” Another says, “I think it sends all the wrong signals for young girls.” Doesn’t anyone see the absurdity here? A popular doll that boasts completely unrealistic and unattainable body proportions and influences the young girls who play with them everyday is all of a sudden inappropriate now that she has tattoos?

Oh bother. I’ve written about this before (here’s the link) but I’ll repeat it here. Activists and feminists have time and time again pointed out how damaging the Barbie doll can be to little girls who are developing ideas about what roles girls and women play in society. They are constantly bombarded with messages in the media showing them how girls are “supposed” to look and act, and Barbies, which are directly marketed to them, are certainly part of the problem. In 2007 a high school student named Galia Slayen created a life-size Barbie to show how terrible of an influence she is to young girls — many of whom already struggle with poor self-image and eating disorders. Galia produced the true-to-size doll for her school’s participation in National Eating Disorder Awareness Week:

She stands about six feet tall with a 39″ bust, 18″ waist, and 33″ hips. These are the supposed measurements of Barbie if she were a real person…

My Barbie’s role is simple. She grabs the attention of apathetic onlookers and makes them think and talk about an issue that thrives in silence. In the last four years, Barbie has surpassed my expectations, attracting attention and sparking conversation among listeners and readers across the nation…

During NEDAW, she reminds people that eating disorders and body image issues are serious and prevalent. Holding an awareness week in high school or college is just one way to get students to discuss these important issues. However, constant discussion and education is key to dealing with and overcoming eating disorders.

Despite her bizarre appearance, Barbie provides something that many advocacy efforts lack. She reminds of something we once loved, while showing us the absurdity of our obsession with perfection.

 

Galia with her life-size Barbie

 

Says parent Latifa Zyne in an article on CBS Local’s NYC site, “Maybe if a little girl sees that she also wants a tattoo and I think it’s not good.” She’s right. If a little girl plays with a doll with tattoos she might grow up thinking tattoos are cool and that she wants some one day. That same little girl, however, could also grow up thinking that her Barbie’s tiny waist, large chest, absurdly long legs and lack of rib cage are how a woman is supposed to look. And that’s a real problem. Because, see, tattoos you can get, and tattoos you can remove. But body image issues are life long struggles for girls that are exacerbated by images of impossible perfection pumped out by magazines, movies and commercials.

So, no. A Barbie with tattoos is not going to fuck up your daughter for life. And let’s get real: if you’re considering spending $50 on a plastic doll for your daughter, a few tattoos are the least of your problems.

Let’s get this straightened out: a doll with a ridiculous and unrealistic body is just as dangerous as a doll with a ridiculous and unrealistic body and tattoos.

And on that note, Miss Representation airs TONIGHT on OWN Network (Oprah’s new channel)! It’s a powerful documentary by Jennifer Siebel-Newsom that exposes the damage that popular media is doing to girls, and explores the limited roles that are available to women in the public eye. It features people like Margaret Cho, Geena Davis, Condoleezza Rice, Katie Couric, Gloria Steinem, and Rachel Maddow, as well as young girls who are greatly effected by these images. Check your local listings for air time, and visit http://www.missrepresentation.org to learn more about the film!

 

 

 

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