Spoon-Fed Barbie

Spoon Fed Barbie

Surface appearances can be deceiving, says artist, Yvonne Escalante.

“From the day we are born, our behavior and tastes are controlled by the social status quo. Little girls are fed an idealized image. Barbie has been deconstructed and reassembled for even easier consumption.”

As a first generation American, Escalante’s father had stressed American identity over cultural ties. Today, her work explores the conflict she feels, caught in the kaleidoscope of identity, gender roles, and societal norms.

Here’s what her art says to me.

Like most little girls, I grew up spoon-fed on Barbie. But not just Barbie. She was an emblem of all that mass media, friends and schoolmates, told me to be. A good shopper. Paired with Ken. Skinny and curvy all at once. The emblem of perfect womanhood, where body defines us.

Oddly, all this spoon feeding can lead to a dearth of feeding of any sort. I’ve gone through phases of not eating like I should, hoping to look like what turn out to be phony photoshopped images that don’t even resemble the starving models who posed for the pics.

What did I know?

Of course, skinny isn’t enough. We must be buxom, too. Which leads to unnecessary, and sometimes life-threatening, surgeries in pursuit of Barbie breasts. At least that’s what happens when boobs define us, creating our worth. For too many women and men, surface is all.

When women are told they must acquire surreal measurements, and when obtaining them is the source of self-worth, the pursuit takes unending time and energy.

Obsessed with diet and exercise, women can become distracted from the rest of life; so much so that (as Naomi Wolf can tell you) advances of the women’s movement wane. Frantic pursuit of the perfect body removes agitation for power of greater substance.

Hence, the pacifier. Here, called “Sucker.”

For more on Yvonne Escalante’s work go to ARTslant.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on September 12, 2012, in body image, feminism, gender, objectification, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Brené Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. I see this quest to know oneself and connect in so many people, and especially in myself. See her extraordinary TED talk at http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html

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